Scientific News

Virtual reality can counteract pain according to a new study

More and more research underlines how the technology linked to virtual reality can be useful in the therapeutic field and in general of medicine so much so that we already talk about “virtual therapeutic reality.” A new study, published in PLOS ONE, describes how virtual reality can be used to treat acute pain.

Researchers tested virtual reality on more than 60 patients admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles between November 2016 and July 2017. Patients were immersed in 21 different virtual reality experiences such as simulated flights or games.

A control group was also used whose members were instead placed in front of televisions that broadcast special videos for guided relaxation, such as poetry reading.
Researchers noted a significantly greater decrease in pain scores in people using virtual reality than in the control group.

The positive effects of virtual reality on pain also remained significant both at the beginning of the trial and after 48-72 hours of use. In general, patients reported greater satisfaction with the virtual reality experience than television viewing.

Brennan Spiegel, a researcher at Cedars-Sinai and one of the authors of the research together with other colleagues, states in relation to these results: “The evidence reveals that virtual reality therapy can reduce pain signals through a variety of mechanisms. In this study, the largest of its kind to date, hospitalized patients with pain were randomized between VR or a TV relaxation program. Virtual reality has outperformed the control conditions and demonstrated benefits for several days of use.”