Virtual reality has come a long way since the world was introduced to VR technology in 1962. The history of VR is thought to date back even further than then, but it’s what is happening in 2019 that makes the immersive technology so impressive.
Virtual reality is no stranger to the health industry. The NHS has been using VR to treat the likes of anxiety for some time now, but pain management is the latest ground-breaking treatment to be carried out by the hands of VR.
Here’s what the studies show about virtual reality as a clinical tool for pain management.
Can VR really help us manage pain?
The BBC recently reported that some women in Wales were given virtual reality headsets to simulate childbirth before the actual experience. It is thought that VR can help the women relax when the time comes for them to actually give birth.
VR during childbirth
The university hospital in Wales is also testing the use of a VR headset during labour for some women. When opting for VR during childbirth, the women can choose which stages of labour they’d like to use the VR device for, with many opting for the early stages. They can even choose the simulator they like, from watching the Northern Lights to relaxing on an isolated beach.
Suzanne Hardacre, the head of midwifery for Cardiff and Vale health board, told the BBC:
“It provides us with an opportunity to do something really different, something innovative, something that’s not being used elsewhere. There’s a great opportunity particularly to use this with women in early labour, to try and help them with some breathing and relaxation and take them out of the moment.”
The technology is currently being trialled in Cardiff but could soon be rolled out across Wales to help women all over the country ease the pain of childbirth.
Virtual reality apps for pain
Israel-based company XR health, who also has an office in Boston and are looking to expand to London, have been testing the use of VR for chronic pain management using their VR apps.
One clinical study that supports their technology has shown that patients immersed in a VR experience actually do experience reduced levels of pain, along with reduced general distress. From those suffering from chronic neck pain to burn victims and cancer patients, the study even found that most patients would be open to using VR apps for pain management again.
XR health’s VR portal includes immersive applications for pain management that even provide real-time analysis. Their Relax8 experience allows patients to immerse themselves in a relaxing environment to practice meditation, relax their mind and self-manage their pain.
What does the future hold for VR and pain management?
Although it is early days for VR and pain management, many studies have proven to be highly effective for those suffering from pain. Here at the Case Farm, we’re excited to see what the future holds for VR as a pain management solution.
If you’re a health professional thinking about implementing VR as part of your patient care, whether for pain management or cognitive training, don’t forget to take a look at our informative VR guides and our range of protective VR cases. A VR device is understandably a big investment, so you’ll no doubt want to take good care of it. Rest assured it’s in safe hands with the likes of our Dave Oculus Rift Case or Peli HTC Vive case.