Virtual Reality, Traumatic Brain Injury & Headaches


VA Palo Alto Health Care System Partnership with Department of Defense

Headache Center for Excellence

The Veterans Administration at the Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) is one the VA-designated Headache Centers of Excellence (HCoE) programs.

The HCoE are part of an effort to provide better access to headache and migraine care for Veterans. In 2021 the initial 7 HCoE's were increased to 14 new across the United States.

Outpatient programs include several headache clinics, including those dedicated to offering newly FDA-approved treatments and neuromodulatory devices, as well as injection and biofeedback clinics and virtual reality.

The HCoE is heavily involved in the VA Whole Health Initiative, which focuses on utilizing complementary and integrative health and encouraging patient self-management.

Providing tailored treatments that include a variety of approaches, including acupuncture, yoga, massage, tai chi, clinical hypnosis, biofeedback, and others, are quickly growing treatment options for Veterans receiving VA care.

Naval Postgraduate School

There is a dire need to improve the cognitive, physical, and emotional health of our veterans who suffer from post-concussive symptoms that include co-morbidities such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, sleep problems, headaches and anxiety. The Headache Center of Excellence (HCOE) at VAPAHCS is considering treatment regimens that include using virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) technologies.

VAPAHCS and Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) began development and experimentation in this area through a cognitive simulation collaboration sponsored by the Air Force Research Lab’s (AFRL) annual Summer Research Challenge involving the Gaming Research Integration for Learning Laboratory (GRILL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB).

We are developing cognitive rehabilitation protocols for older veterans with TBI in out-patient and transitional care using VR that can be executed in “smart rooms” located at the  VA Palo Alto Health Care System's newly openned and world class rehabilitation building.

VR & AR to Treat Pain & PTSD

We continue to collaborate with academic institutions and Silicon Valley companies to bring cutting edge solutions to help our veterans.

The headache Center of Excellence (HCOE) at VAPAHCS utilizes Healium for providing pain relief through VR in veterans in polytrauma outpatient and inpatient clinics.

We are also working with several mobile apps to provide meditation to veterans in clinical and at-home settings.

The innovative project is part of the VA innovation SEED Award.

VA Innovative Ecosystem

Spark-Seed Projects

At VAPAHCS HCOE we have received a SPARK award: A 3D Skull Cap to Improve Neuronavigation Accuracy during Brain Stimulation Treatment.

The project will provide customized 3D printed skullcaps that provides accurate and repetitive targeting for outpatient or in home brain stimulation treatment paradigms such as rTMS.

It will also reduce the cost and time needed to effectively train clinicians to administer brain stimulation treatments as clinicians can rely on markings provided on the customized skull cap to support precise treatment targeting rather than repeating measurements at each treatment appointment.