Chronic pain? Less medication, more Virtual Reality!

Pain is felt when nerves detect damage in the tissue and send signals to transmit information through the spinal cord to the brain. At the moment, chronic pain is combatted using known drugs known as opioids, which alleviate the pain by reducing the intensity of the pain signals reaching the brain. However, this type of treatment, besides having the highest addictiveness among all drugs, can have other serious consequences such as mental disorders, nervous system problems, confusion from intoxication, and so on.

The idea behind using virtual reality to fight the pain is that it functions as a way of distracting the areas of pain; preventing the signals from arriving the brain as instead they are being focused on the sensations generated by the virtual reality. Hunter Hoffman, a pioneer of virtual reality and researcher at Washington University, conducted an experiment with patients who had been badly burnt. He put a VR headset on them which took them to a ´Snow World´ game whilst they cleaned the wounds. During the time the patients were immersed in this game, they said that they only felt half the pain which is normally felt with the same treatment in the real world.

But, unlike opioids, virtual reality is not a short term relief; by using virtual reality as a treatment, the power of being immersed in a new world also means that there is more control over your breathing and cardiac rhythm and also the necessary skills are developed to combat serious pain in the future.

At Arvolution, we believe virtual reality is an excellent alternative to avoid addiction problems from using opioids to treat chronic pain, as well as creating longer lasting impacts than just medication. Of course, we are confident that this technology can be applied to various things within the health sector, especially in the psychology field, where virtual reality will play a big part to treat anxiety problems, panic attacks, and so on. What’s more, the possible adaptation of this technology to individual cases, will make it all the more attractive.


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