Proven Reality

Virtual Reality to Reduce Pain and Anxiety: A Research

According to preliminary findings, virtual reality is beneficial in lowering the pain and anxiety that patients feel, whether utilized alone or in combination with regular therapy (in comparison to standard care and other distraction strategies). You can employ virtual reality to improve and enhance common treatment approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy, which have proven helpful in the past. When SnowWorld, a virtual reality game system, was discovered to reduce pain levels in burn wound care in the early 2000s, virtual reality in health care became a reality. Virtual reality is a mind-body medicine that may heal many ailments. In addition to distracting the mind from pain, it also assists in blocking pain signals from reaching the brain, providing a drug-free alternative to conventional pain management.

Virtual reality and anxiety

We hope that as virtual reality technology grows and expands in scope, it will become more widely available. A beneficial and unique approach to enhancing and making more effective established types of treatment for anxiety and depression, virtual reality, is being explored. VR exposure treatment was the most often used VR intervention (VRET). In virtual reality exposure treatment, participants have purposely presented a feared item or anxiety-provoking experience in a simulated environment designed to be as realistic as possible for them

VRET is effective in treating social anxiety and public speaking anxiety. The hypothesis is that prolonged and frequent exposure to this anxiety-inducing virtual environment would eventually reduce anxiety. Virtual reality is an excellent tool for participants because it allows them to experience a virtual world securely and confidentially. It also allows them to collaborate with therapists in real-time. People with social anxiety were placed in a virtual workplace or job interview. In contrast, people with a fear of public speaking were placed in a virtual classroom or conference room, among other scenarios.

Virtual reality and pain

Individuals may engage with realistic 3D visual environments and other senses using interfaces integrated with virtual reality to create an immersive environment. Virtual reality is a computer simulation and modeling that allows people to interact with realistic 3D visual environments and other senses. Because of recent technological advancements, VR equipment has become significantly more affordable. Multiple businesses now offer headgear that consists of two lenses and a slot for inserting a smartphone for less than $20. According to researchers, VR is currently being considered for use in a clinical context. More studies will likely confirm the effectiveness of VR in pain reduction across a broad spectrum of medical circumstances.

Studies looking into the utility of virtual reality have found that it can reduce both acute and chronic pain in children. Using VR in conjunction with conventional pharmacologic treatment in burn patients between the ages of 9 and 40 reported a 35 percent to 50 percent reduction in felt pain compared with standard pharmacologic therapy alone. The explanation underlying virtual reality’s ability to reduce pain, anxiety, and other symptoms is connected to humans’ limited attentional capacity. Pain needs attention. If part of that attention can be distracted (for example, by interacting with virtual reality), the patient’s response to incoming pain signals is delayed.

How does virtual reality reduce pain?

Nociceptors, found throughout the body and transmit pain signals to the central nervous system via A- and C-fibers, are responsible for detecting pain. Many analgesics act by interfering with the C-fiber pathway, which meddles with the way humans perceive pain. Virtual reality does not interfere with pain signals. Instead influences pain perception and signaling directly and indirectly through the senses of attention, emotion, concentration, memory, and others.

One study which used functional magnetic resonance imaging found that healthy patients who used VR while being exposed to a painful stimulus experienced more than a fifty percent reduction in pain-related brain activity in five different brain regions.

When thermal pain stimulation was applied to nine volunteers ranging in age from 20 to 38 years, research got conducted to compare VR simulation to opioid analgesics. The outcomes were assessed using subjective pain ratings and functional magnetic resonance imaging. Virtual reality and opioid analgesics were shown to have highly similar consequences for pain reduction. The combination of opioids and virtual reality resulted in a considerable additional decrease in pain signals.

The takeaway

Patients benefit from the immersive experience because it distracts them from their discomfort to the degree that allows them to deal better. For example, according to a 2016 research published in PLOS One, virtually all 30 burn patients who used a five-minute virtual reality application named “Cool!” reported a reduction in pain from the beginning of the session to the finish. According to the findings of a meta-study published in Psychological Medicine, “VR has the potential to alter the evaluation, comprehension, and treatment of mental health disorders.” When used in conjunction with focused therapy, virtual reality can improve the care experience for patients before, during, and after treatment.