Virtual reality has insinuated in almost every conceivable domain – from the gaming industry to architecture, and not medicine. As part of an experimental painkiller-free therapy, a team of French medical researchers has used VR headset to ease the discomfort of patient’s undergoing surgery.
Virtual Reality Could Replace Standard Painkillers
A team of St. Joseph’s Hospital has put together a fully immersive virtual reality system to help patient’s cope with pain.
Dr. Olivier Ganasia, St. Joseph’s Hospital’s head of ER, declared that the novel approach to pain management is already showing impressive results.
The head of ER explained that the virtual reality therapy is very similar to hypnosis, in the sense that patients are distracted using visual and auditory stimuli. In a series of experiments, the St. Joseph’s Hospital grad team asked patients with a dislocated should shoulder to wear a VR headset during surgery.
The images projected by the VR system vary in accordance with the patient’s preferences – they could choose to see a snowy mountain peak or a Japanese Zen garden. Of course, the 3D images were accompanied by a soothing soundtrack.
Dr. Ganasia declared that the patients who agreed to wear a virtual reality headset deal better with surgery and post-surgery pain compared to those hooked on painkillers. He said that the study’s results are encouraging enough to be tested in other medical fields.
Of course, using virtual reality in medicine is not entirely known. For example, surgeons use VR headset to plan an operation based on the patient’s MRI scans.
Although the grad team’s approach offers painkiller-free pain relief, some neuroscientists argue that VR might not be a good idea in the long run. They’ve explained that the use of VR to curb pain could actually rewire our brain’s response to it.
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