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Can Virtual & Augmented Reality Help with Pain Management?

May 31, 2023 in

In recent years, the medical field has witnessed groundbreaking developments in technology, particularly in the realm of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). VR immerses users in a virtual world, while AR superimposes 3D graphics in a real-world environment. Both AR and VR have been widely used in the entertainment industry, especially in the realm of video games.

However, these technologies offer far more than just immersive gaming experiences—they have penetrated medical spheres, offering novel approaches to long-standing challenges in the field. One such area is pain management, where VR and AR are starting to revolutionize traditional methods.

Harnessing VR and AR for Pain Management

The science behind the use of VR and AR in pain management revolves around the concept of distraction therapy. When these technologies are used, they command an individual’s focus, reducing their awareness of the pain they are experiencing. The immersive nature of VR and AR can transport patients to different environments, engage them in interactive activities, and thus, alter their perception of pain.

Several studies have reinforced this theory. In one case involving a 36-year-old woman with chronic neuropathic pain, her pain ratings decreased by 36% across 33 sessions of immersive VR. When studying alternative pain management techniques for dental procedures, researchers found that patients reported lower pain ratings when distracted by VR than when watching a movie.

Transforming Pain Management for Patients

VR and AR applications hold immense potential for patients dealing with pain, especially chronic pain—a field often left underserved by conventional treatments. By integrating cognitive-behavioral techniques with these immersive technologies, healthcare professionals can craft individualized pain management plans to best support patients.

The potential applications of VR and AR for pain management extend beyond distraction therapy. For example, some patients could use AR to visualize their symptoms, which can give them a sense of control and understanding over their symptoms. VR can also offer immersive exercises and relaxation techniques, helping patients cope better with their symptoms.

The future of VR and AR in pain management seems bright with potential applications in post-operative pain, physical rehabilitation, and even mental health conditions where pain is a significant symptom. As these technologies continue to evolve, they are set to bring a paradigm shift in pain management, potentially helping us move away from an over-reliance on opioids and other pharmacological treatments.

Contact HigherEchelon for First-Class VR & AR Solutions

The applications of VR and AR are fast and exciting, especially in the medical field. If your organization wants to incorporate these technologies, you need a partner on your side who can guide the way. 

At HigherEchelon, our team specializes in immersive technologies designed to meet the needs of your team. Whether you want to implement a pain management training program or an immersive VR experience, you can trust our experts to take your offerings to the next level with bespoke solutions.

If you are interested in our gaming and simulation solutions, contact us today to discuss your needs. You can call us at 866-488-9228, email us at solutions@higherechelon.com, or fill out this form to learn about our AR and VR offerings and how they can support your organization.