Many question the validity of virtual reality as a treatment for pain. But a recent study reveals its effectiveness on patients with severe pain.
While most research in the area target burn victims, cancer patients and those requiring routine medical procedures, the study focused on patients with pain, hospitalized at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, USA.
The trial involved 120 patients, where 61 patients viewed virtual reality experiences. The remaining 59 watched a health and wellness channel.
Researchers measured pain on a scale from 1 to 10. The experimental group reported pain score of 3 or more prior to receiving treatment, which was three sessions spanning ten minutes each over 48 hours. Virtual reality patients had 21 viewing options on their provided Samsung Gear VR headset, from guided relaxation to simulated flight.
After the treatment period, pain scores fell for both groups, but more significantly for the experimental group. For them, the score fell by 1.72 on average. As for the control group, the score fell by 0.46.
For the virtual reality group participants that reported 7 or more out of 10 prior to the treatment, their pain scores fell much more dramatically than the rest. On average, scores reduced by 3.04.
Compared to the control group patients with the same pain severity before treatment, theirs only fell by 0.93.
With virtual reality able to reroute pain signals to the brain, VR headsets could easily be the answer to managing chronic pain. Plus, owning a headset would limit the number of checkups. It may lessen or even eradicate the need for pharmacological treatments.