KULR 8 News
Posted: Jan 23, 2018
MISSOULA- A virtual reality software created in Western Montana is diagnosing veterans with a disorder that’s often mistaken for PTSD.
Brian Barnes spent three years in the US Army. He worked for a specialized group that trained for combat in extreme climates and terrain. After serving overseas in Afghanistan, he came back, as so many do, with unseen injuries.
“I was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD,” Barnes says.
Now, he’s testing a new product that was designed to help him better identify and treat his issues. Jason Zentgraf, a health and human performance specialist with the nonprofit group RIVER, says sometimes veterans suffer from another disorder related to PTSD.
Vestibular disorder is damage to the inner ear caused by loud noises. Left untreated, it can cause problems for everything from balance to mood.
“In December of 2016, there was a test conducted by the VA that out of this group of veterans with PTSD, 81 percent of them also had an undiagnosed and untreated vestibular disorder,” Zentgraf said.
The symptoms of vestibular disorder are so similar to PTSD that many veterans have it and don’t know, Zentgraf said.
Until now. A new virtual reality system called Virtual Mind is helping diagnose and treat vestibular disorder. The test uses multiple sensors and controllers to test visual and auditory reaction time, mobility and working memory, using eight tests that ask the viewer to move through a realistic virtual environment. It also includes tests for eye-tracking and balance.
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The Vestibular Concussion Connection
Difficulty thinking clearly
Feeling slowed down
Difficulty remembering new information
Fuzzy or blurry vision
Nausea or vomiting (early on)
Sensitivity to noise or light
Feeling tired, having no energy
Nervousness or anxiety
Sleeping more than usual
Sleeping less than usual
Trouble falling asleep