[IMGW]http://media.1up.com/media?id=3174585[/IMGW]Ah, the 90s, when virtual reality was sold as the next big thing in gaming -- a holodeck crammed with unending possibilities and delights. The modern day reality is a bit more practical, as VR is being used in medical research to help patients retrain their brains. The Last Boss has an interesting look at how video game design tools can be used to help patients overcome wonky cranial wiring by reteaching their brains how to process visual information.

Basically, it works like this: the afflicted person walks on a treadmill with enormous screens in front of them and to either side. What runs on the screens depends on the current ailment trying to be overcome; folks who suffer from overwhelming vertigo practice walking through a supermarket aisle, for example. The supermarket interior was built with the Unreal Engine, a nice bit of karmic compensation for all the fragging and dismemberment.

In the works is a new environment, designed to help patients with a fear of heights. The project will use the Unreal Engine once again, this time to create enormous, wide-open environments, such as the top floors of an unfinished skyscraper.

Thanks to 1UP.com for sharing the news with us!