There are basically three clusters of symptoms that coincide with PTSD: re-experiencing, which could include nightmares or flashbacks; avoidance, when the patient avoids cues or reminders of the event; and hyperarousal or numbing, which could include hypervigilance or suspiciousness.
Inside the virtual-reality helmet, the patient is afforded a 360-degree view of two scenarios, a convoy through the desert or a foot patrol through a city. A video-game-style handset controls movement through the scene. Beneath the platform on which the patient sits or stands, speakers provide the rumbling sensation of the convoy and the attack. The scenario can be altered to fit the Soldier's experience. It can be a sunny day, dusk or night. It can even be turned to the green tones of night vision, if that is what the Soldier recalls.
Eventually, the technology may include a system that delivers scents like burning rubber or Iraqi spices that could trigger memories for the Soldier. It is also designed to be able to monitor physical reactions like heart rates, which will help the clinician track the Soldier's reaction to the therapy, Reger explained.