Scent for Rehabilitation: Powerful Sense to Cure Traumatic Stress Disorders

The University of Birmingham in the UK and the University of Central Florida in the US have been doing extensive research in the field, but who else out there is working on similar projects?

This week my attention was brought to the topic of virtual reality simulations aimed to military rehabilitation and cure for post traumatic disorders.

“The sound of the sea is known to have a calming, restorative effect – which is why Professor Bob Stone of the University of Birmingham has created a computer simulation based on a well-known stretch of south Devon coastline, around Wembury”.

Bob and his Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team designed a groundbreaking virtual reality systems using gaming technology and are now developing “back-to-nature” virtual environments with the aim of helping to rehabilitate Armed Forces personnel returning from the front line in Afghanistan. It may also be used to calm agitated A&E patients and sooth the spirits of people in care homes and hospices.

“The evolutionary process makes humans subconsciously seek out all that is vital and alive – especially when life becomes difficult,” explains Bob. “Most people who have experienced stress of some kind are able to find some comfort in spending even a short time strolling on the seashore, sitting by a river or walking in a forest. As humans, we need contact with natural environments. But for humans in psychological and physical distress, Nature can offer much, much more than just a ‘nice place to visit’.”

We can be proudly say that Scent Sciences took part in this admirable project with the University of Birmingham, as our technology was incorporated into their simulation system. Read the full article here.

Furthermore, if you’re interested to know more about this particular project, please take a look at this document provided by the University of Birmingham at this BBC article.

Moving on to the project developed by the University of Central Florida, as explained by ImTech, “The program is operated by the UCF Anxiety Disorders Clinic in the Department of Psychology and called the Trauma Management Therapy Program.  Led by director and clinical psych professor Dr. Deborah Beidel, the program is 17 weeks long and of no charge to vets returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.”

A few of the smells used include:

  • weapon fire
  • body odor
  • burning rubber
  • diesel fuel
  • Moroccan spices
  • garbage
  • cordite, a type of gunpowder

Please click here to read the full article.

So, what do you think of the use of scent for rehabilitation? Can post traumatic disorders really be alleviated with the power of scent?

Written by Carlotta Zorzi

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