VR Solutions As Pain Relievers: Use Cases and Examples
Nowadays, society is facing an opioid crisis that affects about 2 million Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement [read more]. However, how to solve this problem?
The main reason for the crisis is the frequent prescribing of opioid painkillers, which are very addictive. This issue can be solved by partial or complete replacement opioid pain relievers by other methods for pain management, like using VR apps.
Virtual reality can significantly lessen pain signals, especially for those who experience more severe pain. Moreover, this technology also allows managing chronic soreness, or discomfort during long-lasting painful procedures. Let’s find out more about this technology in healthcare.
For which institutions does it work?
- Pediatric Clinics
- Rehab Centers
- Hospice Houses
- Cancer Treatment Centers
- Transfusion Centers
- Midwifery Birth Centers
When does VR can help?
Epidural anesthesia is considered rather dangerous for dealing with discomfort during labor. However, it is often painful to give birth without any pain management. We need an alternative solution. A great option is using relaxing virtual reality apps.
How does it work? Everything is quite simple! The woman wears a VR headset, where she sees soothing pictures of nature, and a background voice tells her how to breathe properly. This method of pain relief has been repeatedly tested in practice and has got many positive reviews from patients.
Burn Victims Rehab
Bandage replacement and wound care is a very painful procedure that is constantly faced by patients with burns. Therefore, as an alternative to medical pain relief burn survivors started using VR gaming to lessen the excruciating pain. VR was found to decrease pain levels, anxiety and time spent thinking about pain.
Another working option is augmented hypnosis. Procedurally, such hypnosis is administered by providing the patient with an audio recording of hypnotic induction, suggestions for pain relief, and then drifting the participant into the virtual world [read more].
Reducing discomfort during dental procedures
Dental procedures are usually unpleasant. Because of this, many patients delay a visit to the dentist until the last moment. VR applications will help to solve the problem of pain during the treatment of the oral cavity. Read exactly how it works in our previous article.
When the anesthesia is contraindicated
Anesthesia can often be even more dangerous than the medical operation itself due to a large number of possible complications and precautions. That is why there is a large number of patients who are generally contraindicated to reduce pain with medication. However, their need for pain relief does not disappear. The use of VR pain management apps perfectly solves this problem. Additionally, it doesn’t require a lot of resources – just a headset and an application.
VR makes injections and other painful or potentially frightening procedures less distressing to children. Before the procedure the little patient is put on VR goggles with exciting games or videos and the child does not pay attention to unpleasant manipulations in real life.
Nowadays, amputees avoid phantom pain in lost limbs by playing VR games. In the virtual environment, patients could see and move missing limbs, which had a positive effect on their prosthetic adaptation skills, mental health, and overall quality of life.
Dealing with cancer pain
Studies show that VR supplements help cancer patients withstand painful medical procedures, including chemotherapy, lumbar puncture, and port access. 82% of children stated that treatment with VR was better than previous treatments and they would like to use VR again [read more].
Relaxing during routine medical procedures
Many routine medical procedures, such as a blood draw, intravenous placement, and immunization can be painful and anxiety-provoking. The virtual reality app helps patients to switch their attention from the procedure and instead meditate, play games or even learn useful information thanks to 360 videos.
Chronic pain management
VR applications for overcoming chronic pain have two main functions – relaxation and physiotherapeutic. The first one works in VR meditation and relaxing apps. The second one contains the necessary set of exercises that patients need to perform. Thus VR apps help to manage acute procedural pain and aid in physical rehabilitation.
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How Does VR As A Pain Reliever Works?
There are several approaches used in VR applications to relieve pain. The first includes immersion and distraction from pain or unpleasant medical procedures. These features are implemented in VR games, meditation applications, apps with 360 videos.
Another way to control pain with virtual reality is augmented hypnosis [read more]. These apps provide the patient with an audio recording of hypnotic induction, suggestions for pain relief, and then drifting the participant into the virtual world [read more].
Both of these methods have been studied for ten years and are demonstrating tremendous results already.
Why VR is better than traditional pain-relievers?
VR can be a safe, effective, and drug-free solution for some types of pain. The greatest benefit from virtual reality is obtained by people with severe pain who are intolerant to certain drugs as well as patients with chronic pain who could not use pain relievers due to their high addiction or health problems.
Disadvantages Of VR Apps As Pain Relievers
VR Pain Relieving helps, but it’s not strong enough
There are a lot of studies that show the effectiveness of VR applications, but the main feature that makes them effective as pain relievers is a distraction. And it is clear that very severe pain, such as during surgery, can not be overcome because of the distraction of the patient only.
VR Pain Relieving is still a method that requires a lot of clinical research
Although VR has long been used in medicine to relieve pain, this method has not yet become widespread. However, for decades, scientists around the world have been conducting researches that show the effectiveness of virtual reality for pain management.
VR can help people better manage pain and other symptoms that traditionally require medication. Yet several more questions need to be answered to better understand the full potential of VR in a clinical setting.