Research Shows Virtual Reality is Effective in the Treatment of Chronic Pain
While virtual reality is no longer considered to be a revolutionary technology, it might have a new application in the treatment of chronic pain. Across the United States, millions of people live with pain on a daily basis. Furthermore, a significant percentage of these individuals say that this pain impacts their quality of life. For this reason, chronic pain has been a focus of the medical community. Researchers have been looking for an alternative to narcotics and opioid medications which have severe side effects that include addiction. Fortunately, they might have just found one. A recent research paper was published demonstrating that virtual reality can be effective in the treatment of chronic pain.
A Search for an Alternative
Currently, the treatment options for chronic pain are relatively limited. Regardless of whether people develop daily pain following an auto accident or as a result of chronic disease, the treatment typically involves some sort of pill regimen. Yes, this regimen is often combined with more holistic options such as massage therapy, physical therapy, and even acupuncture; however, narcotics and opioid medications are typically the backbones.
These medications have led to addiction across the country that has reached epidemic proportions. Medicines such as Vicodin, Percocet, and Lortab require only a few doses to get someone addicted to its effects. Furthermore, these medications might not do much to blunt the sting of chronic pain. Now, thanks to the efforts of researchers everywhere, virtual reality might just prove to be the alternative that so many people need.
An Immersive Experience in Virtual Reality Can Blunt Severe Pain
Virtual reality has made waves throughout the gaming community for its new, immersive experience that nearly transports gamers to a foreign environment. It has revolutionized the electronics market. Now, researchers are trying to do the same thing for chronic pain.
According to a research article that was recently released through NPR, many people have found comfort in the world of virtual reality. People can be transported to almost any environment that they desire. This might be a walk through the wilderness, a trip to outer space, or even a journey with deep-sea life. Many people have stated that, in mere minutes, their mind is taken to a place of relaxation and peace. These stories are much more than simple anecdotes. Their feelings have been studied and published in reputable journals.
A New Treatment Option for Doctors and Patients
According to medical researchers and board-certified physicians, the world of virtual reality can actually change the way people look at pain. This research study took place in a hospital where individuals were receiving treatment for severe, recurrent pain. Some people had pain due to chronic diseases, such as cancer, while others were in pain due to orthopedic conditions, such as bone fractures.
In the study, these individuals were separated into two separate groups. One group got to use a VR headset and had access to dozens of environments through the headset’s library. The group was free to travel wherever their heart desired. The other group watched a health and wellness channel on TV.
The results were profound. The group that used the VR headset indicated that their pain dropped by about 300 percent more than the group that simply watched the TV station. This shows that VR experiences are more effective than other options and might have the ability to reduce people’s pain without exposing them to the side effects of narcotics and opioid prescriptions.
Watch YouTube Video: Watch this short informative video on real patients suffering from chronic pain and their experience using Virtual Reality as an alternative to alleviate their discomfort.
Future Directions: A New Frontier in Medical Research
The researchers indicate that more studies need to be done. While virtual reality should have a role in the treatment of chronic pain, it is still unclear just how these headsets interface with the brain to relieve pain. This needs to be the target of future research studies.
For now, the researchers believe that VR immerses the brain in a way that makes it hard to interface with stimuli from outside the headset. This includes pain signals coming from other areas of the body. In a way, this can be viewed as a distraction. For many suffering from pain, this would be seen a welcome distraction. It provides hope to many people looking for solutions.
Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury attorney. Virtual reality might be an effective treatment option for those living with chronic pain. If your loved one has been living in chronic pain due to the negligence of another individual or entity, please reach out to me today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.
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Citation of Photo: Pixabay.
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