Patronus: a blended care treatment for panic disorder, claustrophobia and driving anxiety
Mental health is critical to overall health. Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent and disabling conditions. They lead to feelings of incapacitating fear and represent a cost of EUR 74.4 billion in Europe alone.
Exposure therapy (ET) involves gradually confronting the patient with the object or situation of their fear. It is an effective treatment, but it is also time-consuming, expensive and difficult to control. Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) is a safe, controlled, cost-effective and potent alternative. Using a computer-generated environment, VRET immerses the patient gradually into an emotional experience. However, current solutions fall short in correctly assessing the patient’s real-time anxiety level during exposure. Second, easy and dynamic personalization of the VRET is currently not possible. Third, VRETs are often standalone and intricate solutions, complicating longitudinal, long-term follow-up through blended self-care and therapist involvement. Although mobile apps for anxiety exist, they do not include the therapist in the daily follow-up and coaching loop.
Patronus offers a solution for these three shortcomings. The blended care therapy consists of face-to-face and virtual reality therapy. Standard exposure therapy is enriched with an algorithm that automatically creates personal scenarios in VR, wearables that measure a objective anxiety level and a coaching app with VR@Home.