Is Virtual Reality Therapy Better For Pain Than Opioids?

AppliedVR is using virtual reality therapy for pain and anxiety associated with medical procedures
AppliedVR is using virtual reality therapy for pain and anxiety associated with medical procedures

Virtual reality therapy has long been used for pain management, and new research suggests that it could be as effective for reducing pain as the use of narcotics.

AppliedVR, a company that is producing VR content for managing the pain and anxiety associated with medical procedures, has been working with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, to gather data.

One study that Cedars-Sinai recently finished had a group of 60 patients with a range of medical conditions use the content provided by AppliedVR.

Brennan Spiegel, director of health services research at Cedars-Sinai, says researchers found that 20 minutes with the VR software reduced patients’ pain by and average of 24 percent.

“That’s a pretty dramatic reduction for an acute pain,” he says. “It’s not too different from what we see from giving narcotics.”

The group will next be conducting controlled trials and are cautiously optimistic about the results.

It is clear that much more research needs to be done before over-hyping virtual reality therapy as the solution to pain management problems, but with the increasing number of people becoming addicted to pain medication, there has never been a more pressing need for alternative treatments.

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