Virtual reality as a possible painkiller

Virtual reality is being used to distract patients from their painful experiences in different hospitals. An increasing number of centres are using this method to relieve the pain, for example, of people who have suffered burns, during the administration of intravenous medication, during dressing changes, etc. In some cases, it even eliminates the need to use analgesics.

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For some decades now, the medical community has been using virtual reality to help people with problems such as phobias and anxiety disorders. The evolution of these types of products, which are increasingly economic and compact, has made it easier to use them in hospital care environments.
An increasing number of researchers and hospitals are discovering that virtual reality reduces anxiety and the perception of pain during processes such as dressing changes, the administration of intravenous medication or epidural anaesthesia. It can also help patients to relax before or after a surgical procedure. It is so effective that it can even make sedation unnecessary.
The reason why virtual reality is so effective in pain reduction is unknown, but it is believed that the brain, when it is concentrating on a VR game, is so busy processing those signals that it finds it hard to process any other signal such as, for example, pain. And, although virtual reality won’t replace painkillers altogether, evidence suggests that it’s worth giving it a try before resorting to other medicines.
Information source:
Al-heeti, Abrar. VR could be your next painkiller. Cnet [Internet]. 25th of March, 2018 [consulted on the 4th of November, 2018]; Science: [approx. 9 screens]. Available at 


-       To reduce pain during clinical care.


Customer satisfaction. The distraction has a calming effect during clinical treatment.

More robust processes. A study carried out by the Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, in which 100 hospitalised patients took part, discovered that those who watched relaxing videos on a virtual reality device registered a decrease of 24% in their pain levels. In contrast, the other 50 patients who watched a nature video in 2D with relaxing scenes on a close screen only experienced a pain reduction of 13.2%. In another clinical study with AppliedVR, patients that used virtual reality had a pain reduction of 52%.

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Published on*** 4 Nov 2018


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