In the form of immersive and glueing 3-D simulations, the methods of examination, treatment, and operation of diseases in healthcare are growing. Virtual Reality has taken the centre stage. The technology is being accepted today for patient gains.
There are some segments in the healthcare industry where a lot more is needed than a physician’s treatment and advice – patient experience. A major part of the patient satisfaction revolves around pain management. This is the first factor that a person under treatment checks to see if there have been results from the treatment. Pain is managed by most of the hospitals and healthcare centres but how, is the question.
Though healthcare has improved substantially, yet the most common resolution to pain management is a moderate to heavy dose of analgesia. From aspirin and acetaminophen to morphine, these analgesics may cause side-effects like irritation, dizziness, addiction, rashes, hives, etc. Treating pain is still a challenge faced by many and it still remains a major blot on disease management. It gradually unravels and proves to be a setback. Increased pain sensitivity and decreasing pain relieving are symptoms that occur with time. Chronic pain might also cause disability and it is very prominent in diseases like cancer, migraine, arthritis, etc. Hence, the need for a replacement and Virtual Reality fits the job well. Virtual Reality headgears can take a person and divert their mind to a completely different environment.
Usually patients turn to doctors because of unbearable pain and Virtual Reality actually mellows down the pain and anxiety by relaxing the nervous system.
Companies like AppliedVR are toiling to stand out of the masses to improve the patient experience.
AppliedVR is a VR platform designed for clinical settings. There are many diagnosis processes, operations, and treatments where patients undergo scary and painful methods. To relieve their pain and subdue the painful emotion, the company arranges a Virtual Reality backed treatment where the patient is provided with a headgear to involve their mind while the doctor performs a procedure or any other medical treatment. The company uses an engaging way to manage the pain. The patients can interact with a simulated environment that relaxes them. This use of VR can be applied pre-treatment, or post-treatment, or even during the treatment, whatever is the most recommended by the physician.
Labour Pain – When a trial was conducted under the supervision of Ralph Anderson, a gynaecologist, it opened the possibility to redefining childbirth [Article]. Erin Martucci was her patient and a pregnant lady then at the time of this research. When it was finally the time for her to bear the excruciating labour pain, her gynaecologist came up with an idea of trying Virtual Reality to manage the labour pain rather than resorting to anesthesia. A pre-programmed Virtual Reality headset was given to her during her delivery wherein she was calmed down by the polite instructions like ‘focus on the birds’, “remember to breathe”. As soon as her headset was removed, she could see her baby making its initial appearance in the world. The whole experience turned out pleasant for her, as was supposed to be. As reported, Virtual Reality facilitates 82% pain reduction in patients who used the technology against those who didn’t [Report].
“Having that voice take me through the breathing and being in touch with your body and that focal point helped so much more” – Erin Martucci
Chemotherapy – One of the worst medical procedures to go through because of the excruciating pain. As per the NCBI data, 82% of the patients undergoing chemotherapy would want to go through the medical procedure with VR [Report]. As per these patients, the session seemed of shorter duration because of the technology and the chemotherapy was more tolerable because of the distractions from pain created by VR. The treatment was affordable, easy to accommodate, and reduced pain in the patients substantially.
Burn Wounds – In a physical therapy session for the patients suffering from burn wounds, the patients were subjected to the ‘SnowWorld’ Virtual Reality session. The study was conducted to observe the effects of Virtual Reality when supplemented with analgesic technique for paediatric child burns. The subjects purported a decrease in cognitive pain upto 44%, 27% decrease in sensory pain, and 32% reduction in affective pain [Study]. Through wound care treatment, Virtual Reality has proven results of decreasing pain and unpleasantness during burn care treatment. A study conducted on 19 veterans with burn injuries confirmed the same [Link].
Virtual Reality proves to be a good analgesia without any side-effects. This is something the patients can continue without any harm. The technology is pretty affordable and given the ability to reuse the equipment makes it even more beneficial. The technology is seen as a replacement to opioids – the painkillers usually recommended to patients to reduce discomfort and pain. VR can prove life-saving for patients who have benefitted a lot from it. Like Ms Vasquez, to whom the opioids made no sense. She found relief after months, just because of Virtual Reality [Case Study].
Munfarid is a Middle East organization bringing state-of-the-art, cutting-edge Virtual Reality Experiences. VRXOne – The Virtual Reality program by Munfarid facilitates a gateway to an imaginative world where nothing is impossible and any disease is curable. The organisation works hard to take Virtual Reality a step closer to people in need.
From women enduring labour pains to a patient undergoing chemotherapy, every pain can be undermined with the help of Virtual Reality. Pain is subjective, but Virtual Reality is an undisputed solution.