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Spa combining virtual reality with massages to treat PTSD

GOSHEN, Ind. - A soldier and his business partner--both living with PTSD--developed a virtual reality system built right into a massage chair to treat themselves and others.

“It’s a place of wonder and amazement, as you seen when you tried it yourself, and combining that with massage therapy, it adds a whole new level of healing for me. It creates almost a mind-body duality," said the developer of that system and owner of That Massage Place, Josh Ridenour.

After returning from Iraq, Army veteran Josh Ridenour was searching for a way to cope with his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I was dealing with a lot of stress when I came back from Iraq. I used to get these terrible headaches," he said.

Meanwhile, his future business partner sought solace from her debilitating civilian PTSD.

“As a child I was sexually abused by an adult, and it happened for quite a while before anybody found out about it," said co-owner of That Massage Place, Tiffany Fleischer.

“I started using massage therapy to help myself, because there wasn’t really any resources to go out and get help...We started hearing about these programs where they’re using virtual reality to help soldiers with PTSD, and so a light bulb just went off that why aren’t we including massage therapy, which already has great benefits, with this massage therapy that they’re already using for veterans," said Ridenour.

So, under that name That Massage Place, they decided to develop their own.

This is the first time that Ridenour and Fleischer debuted the virtual reality massage, which basically means that a customer coming in for a massage would put his or her head into the headrest and instantly be transported to the depths of the ocean or another destination.

Eventually, the goal is to install eye-tracking software so when the customer looks to the left and to the right, the technology would follow him or her, so they feel like they're actually in a mini vacation, as they call it.

“You’re not only working your body and getting your endorphins going, but you’re also working  your mind and retraining your brain to incorporate those positive thoughts with the positive feeling that your body’s taking in," said Tiffany.

Josh and Tiffany didn't shoot the videos they showed Wednesday night, but they plan to go out and film their own virtual reality tours, which will translate into hour-long "mini vacations" in the massage chair, for a fraction of the typical cost.

“I didn’t want to just cope. I wanted to go further. I wanted to actually live," said Tiffany.

At the behest of some veterans, That Massage Place is planning to travel to Colorado to film a raft ride down the river for a virtual reality massage, but their funding just fell through.

They're hoping to raise $7,000 by June 3, so if you'd like to help out soldiers by donating, click on their gofundme here.


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