Can virtual reality help pain?

We’ve all seen the virtual reality headsets that are popular for video games.  Now, they are being used in the medical field to help patients!  Here are some ways that virtual reality is being used in health care:

Pain control for burn victims:  A game invented at the University of Washington involves games such as throwing snowballs at penguins, and is used during painful situations such as wound care or physical therapy for patients with severe burn injuries.

Pain control in children:  A study showed significantly improved pain control in children having a pain crisis from Sickle Cell Anemia when using virtual reality to play games and experience videos.

Pain control for injured soldiers:  A study in 2011 found that using virtual reality games for soldiers who had sustained an IED blast and were undergoing treatment worked better for pain control than morphine.

Surgical training:  Surgeons in training are using virtual reality with 3D reconstruction to simulate surgical situations.

Rehabilitating brain injury:  Virtual reality is being used to rehabilitate patients who have suffered brain injury, by games that help them with problem-solving and organization.

Disabled patients:  Using virtual reality can allow disabled adult and pediatric patients to experience situations where they can’t actually go.  For example, a 5-year-old with Cerebral Palsy can spend time “swimming” around an animated fish tank.

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