Mainstream use of virtual reality (VR) headsets began about two years ago. In that time, the devices, which transport the user into a different world, have been used for entertainment, teaching, and healthcare.
VR is another tool that can be used to help reduce patients pain. Currently, opioids are the standard treatment for pain relief. However, according to data from the CDC, 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, and prescription opioids are a known driving factor in these deaths
Last week, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of the earliest adopters of VR in a healthcare setting, gave an update on the impact of the reality-altering technology during MD&M West.
The Pain RelieVR platform helps patients manage pain by offering highly immersive VR games that can shift patients’ attention away from medical procedures and the recovery processes. The two have also developed the Anxiety RelieVR application for patients.
“We’re taking all of this and now we’re introducing it into the hospital,” Vartan Tashjian, an Internist at Cedars-Sinai, said during a panel at MD&M West.
In May of 2017, a study evaluating Applied VR’s technology in 100 hospitalized Cedars-Sinai patients was published in JMIR Mental Health, a sister publication of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
In the study, 50 patients received VR therapy and reported a 24% drop in pain scores after using the virtual reality goggles. The study showed that another 50 patients viewing a calming two-dimensional standard video only reported a decrease of 13.2% in pain.
Image Credit: AppliedVR