Innovative Research at Arkansas State University Aids Veterans


  • VR and AI reveal insights into veterans’ mental health.
  • Ethical, cutting-edge research supports suicide prevention.
  • Community and technology unite for veterans’ wellbeing.

In an unprecedented effort to address mental health issues and suicide prevention among military veterans, Arkansas State University’s Masters of Athletic Training Program conducted a groundbreaking study using virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. This initiative, part of the Veterans’ Suicide Prevention Project, saw nearly 100 veterans participate in a comprehensive two-day survey at the Beck Center for Veterans.

Arkansas State University Harness technology for mental health

Under the guidance of Dr. Scott Bruce, Director of Research, the project aimed to identify key predictors of mental health challenges and suicidal ideation in veterans. Bruce emphasized the critical need for understanding the specific issues veterans face to develop effective interventions. A disturbing statistic underpins the project’s urgency: 22 veterans commit suicide daily in the United States.

The innovative use of VR technology in this study allowed researchers to assess veterans’ reaction times, providing insights into the potential impact of previous head injuries, such as concussions, on their mental health. This approach represents a significant advancement in the field of mental health research, offering a novel method to detect and understand the nuances of brain injuries.

A community effort

The project was a collaborative endeavor, with first- and second-year students of the program, including Jasmine Espinoza and Emily Clark, actively participating in conducting the VR surveys. The technology’s sensitivity required participants to focus intensely, demonstrating the sophisticated nature of the tools employed in this research.

Veterans who took part in the surveys and biomarker tests were compensated for their time, underscoring the project’s commitment to ethical research practices. The confidentiality of the data collected was strictly maintained, with assurances that individual results would not be shared with external entities, ensuring participants’ privacy and trust.

Impact and future directions

The data collected through this initiative promises to shed new light on the complex interplay between physical injuries and mental health challenges in veterans. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies, the research team at Arkansas State University is paving the way for more targeted and effective mental health interventions, potentially reducing the alarming rate of veteran suicides.

This study not only highlights the potential of VR and AI in psychological research but also underscores the importance of community involvement and ethical research practices in addressing critical social issues. As the project progresses, its findings could offer vital insights into improving mental health support for veterans, contributing to broader efforts to address suicide prevention in this vulnerable population.

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Glory Kaburu

Glory is an extremely knowledgeable journalist proficient with AI tools and research. She is passionate about AI and has authored several articles on the subject. She keeps herself abreast of the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning and writes about them regularly.

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