VR therapy could reduce acute and chronic pain

Cedars-Sinai’s Brennan Spiegel has published a study showing that VR therapy could reduce acute and chronic pain.

100 gastrointestinal, cardiac, neurological and post-surgical pain patients with an average pain score of 5.4 were included.  Fifty patients watched a 15-minute nature video. Fifty patients watched a 15-minute animated game with VR goggles.
The patients who watched the nature video had a 13% decrease in  pain scores.  The patients who watched the virtual reality game had a 24% decrease.

Th researchers are not sure how VR actually reduces pain, but thnk that it could be due to immersive distraction.  According to Spiegel:

“When the mind is deeply engaged in an immersive experience, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to perceive stimuli outside of the field of attention. By ‘hijacking’ the auditory, visual, and proprioception senses, VR is thought to create an immersive distraction that restricts the mind from processing pain.”

Potential side effects of VR include dizziness, vomiting, nausea or epileptic seizures, therefore patients must be carefully screened and monitored.

Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston – Featuring Ed Boyden, Roz Picard, Tom Insel, John Rogers, Jamshid Ghajar and  Nathan Intrator – September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab