Close this search box.

Many studies show that VR absorbs the patient’s attention so that the pain sensations get reduced. It helps patients with chronic pain, children during some unpleasant medical tests, and also women during childbirth. (image: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center).

New Study Confirms Virtual Reality is A Painkiller

After putting on VR goggles, patients leave reality and enter a breathtaking, unreal world. The distraction is so enormous that brain seems not to able process other sensations, like pain for example. A new study shows that hospitalised patients using VR report a drop in pain scores.

To check if VR can be used to reduce severe pain, researchers conducted a randomised comparative-effectiveness trial. The 120 adults in the study were admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for a variety of ailments including orthopaedic problems, gastrointestinal diseases and cancer. All of the patients had an average pain score of at least three out of 10 during the 24 hours prior to participating in the study.

Half of the patients were given VR goggles with a variety of relaxing and meditative experiences to choose from. They were advised to use the headsets three times a day for 10 minutes per session – and as needed for breakthrough pain – over three days.

The other half of the patients were instructed to tune their in-room TVs to the health and wellness channel, which included guided-relaxation content such as yoga and meditation. They also were asked to view the channel three times a day for 10 minutes per session and as needed for breakthrough pain. Several times a day, nurses asked all the patients in the study to rate their pain using the standard zero to 10 scale.

The study’s findings showed the on-demand use of VR resulted in statistically significant improvements in pain compared to the TV group, with patients in the VR group averaging 1.7 points lower on the pain scale. When researchers analysed findings from the subgroup of patients with the most severe baseline pain of seven or above, VR patients averaged three points lower than the TV group.

“This is our largest and most ambitious VR study to date,” Spiegel said. “Our results support previous research that VR can meaningfully reduce pain using a non-addictive, drug-free treatment for people experience a range of different pain conditions.”

In Spiegel’s previous study of short-term VR therapy, completed in 2017, the results published in JMIR Mental Health showed patients using VR reported a 24% drop in pain scores.

Virtual Reality is still underused in pain management

The current study underscores that VR can be an effective tool to add to traditional pain-management protocols.

“Virtual reality is a mind-body treatment that is based in real science,” Spiegel said. “It does more than just distract the mind from pain, but also helps to block pain signals from reaching the brain, offering a drug-free supplement to traditional pain management.”

VR helps me to relax, pulls me out of the “here and now”and allows me to concentrate on something besides a pain” – says Tom Norris, that has been leaving with chronic pain for 40 years.

Several patients have found VR so helpful in managing pain that they are now using it regularly at home. One patient, Joseph Norris, said he has suffered from chronic pain for 30 years after undergoing radiation treatment to his hip and pelvic area. The former U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel took pain medication for 20 years until he began searching for alternative methods.

Norris tried VR six months ago, and today he uses his VR headset once a week. Norris said, “VR is a tool I use to successfully divert attention away from my pain, and it helps me reinforce my breathing pattern.”

Spiegel and his team are currently involved in a study following patients using VR in their homes for 60 days. “I believe that one day soon VR will be part of every doctor’s tool kit for pain management,” Spiegel said.

Many studies show that VR absorbs the patient’s attention so that the pain sensations get reduced. It helps patients with chronic pain, children during some unpleasant medical tests, and also women during childbirth.

Source: Cedars-Sinai


ICT&health World Conference 2024

Experience the future of healthcare at the ICT&health World Conference from May 14th to 16th, 2024!
Secure your ticket now and immerse yourself in groundbreaking technologies and innovative solutions.
Engage with fellow experts and explore the power of global collaborations.

Share this article!

Read also
Pioneering Cardiac Arrest Detection for Enhanced Survival.
CardioWatch Revolutionizes Cardiac Arrest Detection
Dr. Oscar Díaz-Cambronero, Head of Perioperative Medicine Department at La Fe Hospital, spearheads innovative telemonitoring initiatives revolutionizing patient care
Smartwatches Saving Lives Inside and Outside the Hospital
EIT 2024
EIT Awards 2024. Two European startups are revolutionizing the treatment of cardiovascular diseases
Bertrand Piccard, Swiss explorer and founder of the Solar Impulse Foundation
EIT Summit 2024. What are the trigger points that drive or inhibit innovation?
MMC pioneers wireless monitoring for premature infants with the innovative Bambi Belt, revolutionizing care with improved comfort and mobility.
Wireless Monitoring of Vital Signs in Premature Infants at Máxima MC
Data protection-critical incidents resulting from human error are often rooted in stress, routine, negative attitudes toward IT, and deficits in employees' identification with the healthcare facility.
How cyberpsychology helps prevent human errors leading to data leaks
What technologies will enter our homes in a few months? ICT&health checked it out at the CES 2024.
CES 2024: Meet the exciting innovations for health and well-being
An article on a new study on e-health assessment tools
eHealth success lies at the intersection of technology, people, and organization
Unlocking the Future: Professor Sylvia Thun, a trailblazer in healthcare interoperability, discusses the crucial role of seamless data exchange in revolutionizing medicine and empowering individuals with comprehensive access to their health data.
Seamless data exchange will unlock the long-awaited benefits of digitalization
Medical facilities should proactively integrate new technologies into workflows to improve the quality of care.
Five areas of digitalization that healthcare providers should focus on in 2024
Follow us