Physical pain is an unpleasant feeling that we all experience to some degree during our lifetime. It can go from light, to severe, to an extreme intensity that we sometimes cannot tolerate. We feel physical pain whenever we undergo a simple procedure, such as blood withdrawal or invasive and non-invasive procedures. As humans, we can only tolerate physical pain so much. Today, Virtual Reality is making its way to the healthcare sector to help doctors and patients alike with pain management.
What is pain management?
Pain management is a branch of medicine that deals with pain, and helps patients learn how to manage the pain they’re feeling. Medical doctors, pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists, and clinical psychologists are some of the many health professionals that play an important role in pain management, and help patients deal with their pain.
VR (Virtual Reality) and pain relief
Some people know VR ( Virtual Reality ) as a tool that has redefined the video gaming experience. Now this technology is making its way to the healthcare sector to help doctors and patients alike with pain management.
How does this medication-free headset work to reduce acute and chronic pain? It resembles a brain hack, which uses a simple brain distraction technique that immerses the patient into an entertaining, relaxing, and interactive environment. This fully experience occupies the patient’s brain, leaving no room for them to process pain sensations. As a result, the brain stops processing a pain signal at the spinal cord before it can go all the way up to the frontal lobe to be felt.
Still, in its early days in medicine, VR ( Virtual Reality ) seems to be promising tool already. Patients will wear the headset that is programmed to have a combination of images and soothing sounds or words that help create the immersive environment, to help them cope better with pain. It can be used with patients of different ages and various conditions to ease their fear, anxiety and pain, and thus improve outcomes and efficacy of medical procedure(s) or treatment(s).
A fully immersive and pain-free experience
Instead of watching a needle go into their arm, children can be offered a VR ( Virtual Reality ) headset, which shows them relaxing images while the doctors are doing their job. It can also be used by patients undergoing burn care or any other invasive procedure or a biopsy. Different contexts and scenes can be employed depending on the age, condition and interests of the patient(s).
For example, patients can imagine themselves in north-pole immersed in snow, playing at an amusement park, or even dancing at a festival. It doesn’t end there. Pregnant women in labor score among the most painful experiences one can ever face and VR ( Virtual Reality ) can really help in transport them into a more relaxed and almost pain-free environment.
Being a non-invasive and a medication-free alternative, VR ( Virtual Reality ) is an effective pain management option especially that it is risk-free, and does not have any direct and indirect side effects like other pain management medications.
VR ( Virtual Reality ) takes patients on a fully immersive experience, which helps manage their state of mind, by distracting them away from the pain itself. It’s more like ‘if you don’t think about it, you won’t feel it’ approach. It is an innovative revolution in and medical technology. With its growing popularity and promising results, it could possibly become a mainstream in the medical world.