Virtual reality and artificial intelligence are proving to be useful aids in treating patients with mental disorders

Virtual reality can be used in medicine to create a relaxing environment during treatment, which for certain groups of patients is usually difficult.

Virtual reality and artificial intelligence are useful assistants in the treatment of patients with mental disorders

Every dentist will one day treat a patient with some form of mental retardation, and according to recent research, technology is now available to make this treatment more uniform and help the patient feel more comfortable. This study, significant in the context of Saudi Arabia, where more than a million people suffer from mental disorders, aimed to address the problem of these patients' inability to express their dental treatment needs. Researchers examined the effects of virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) during dental treatment on anxiety and behavioral responses in patients with mental health conditions.

The study begins by highlighting the high prevalence of mental disorders worldwide and the specific challenges faced by people with mental health conditions when receiving dental treatment. Technological advances in mental health treatment, especially through AI and VR, are seen as potential solutions for managing anxiety and improving behavior in dental settings. The authors sought to determine whether immersive VR combined with AI intervention could reduce anxiety and improve behavior in people with moderate to severe mental disorders such as cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. It hypothesized that virtual simulation would familiarize people with the dental environment, thereby making simple procedures easier for staff and patients.

A cross-sectional study was conducted between December 2022 and March 2023 among 90 women living in a rehabilitation center. Participants were selected based on specific inclusion and exclusion criteria, and data were collected on their demographic background, baseline anxiety levels, and behavior. Two forms of intervention were used in the care of these patients. The first used an Oculus Quest 2 VR headset to create a simulated natural environment that provided a calming effect. The second intervention involved an AI-powered environment connected to a galvanic skin response (GSR) sensor, which adjusted the environment based on the patient's anxiety level by measuring emotional arousal.

The simulated environment created took advantage of the relaxing properties of nature, such as images of a river and wetlands. Additionally, cartoon characters were included and the environment was part of the custom design. GSR monitored whether the patient had reached a set threshold and adjusted the VR environment to compensate for this and provide a more calming experience.

Each anxiety rating was tailored to the patient, and the authors did not administer a baseline rating. These individual scores were useful in assessing each patient's performance before and after the procedure, as well as the effectiveness of the program at each stage of treatment—preintervention, during intervention, and postintervention. Additionally using the Frankl Behavior Rating Scale and the Wenham Anxiety and Behavior Scale to assess changes in behavior, clinicians were able to note significant reductions in anxiety levels and improvements in behavior when using VR and AI interventions. For example, GSR values ​​decreased significantly from preoperative to postoperative. In addition, there was a marked improvement in behavior on the Frankland Wenham scale, and the study found a positive correlation between decreased anxiety and improved behavior.

According to these results, it can be concluded that VR-based distraction is an effective method for managing anxiety and behavior during non-invasive dental treatment in people with mental health conditions. This suggests that VR and AI interventions have wider application in a variety of clinical settings and warrants further research to examine their effectiveness in more complex medical and dental procedures.