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SnowWorld breathes new life into severely burned Afghanistan veteran


We know video games can offer deeply immersive experiences that affect our real-world emotions and draw intense reactions from our real-life bodies and minds. We know this, and finally the professional medical community is beginning to recognize our insight, with truly encouraging results, as described by GQ's recent feature, Burning Man.

Sam Brown's body was burned horrifically during his tour in Afghanistan, after his Humvee ran over an IED, GQ writes. He spent many months after the accident drugged out of consciousness on rave-grade hallucinogens and enduring the highest levels of physiological pain during therapy that no amount of morpihne could tame. And then a cognitive psychologist told him to play SnowWorld, a virtual-reality game full of snowball-chucking snowmen and penguins, while his skin was stretched, a procedure that normally garnered a score over 10 on Brown's pain scale.

Playing SnowWorld, he gave the pain a six.

Hunter Hoffman, the psychologist behind SnowWorld, is working on further research into the art of pain distraction through video games, but already results such as Brown's show great potential. Hoffman is using $7.5 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health to expand his research, including the incorporation of Second Life-style elements into video game therapy. Read the entire, captivating story at GQ.
[Image via MGShelton]

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