Studies have shown that virtual reality can be quite an effective alternative to painkillers and now that headsets like the HTC Vive and the Galaxy Gear VR exist, it’s become a more cost efficient treatment method than ever before.
Brennan Spiegel, who directs health services research at Cedars-Sinai, revealed that researchers found that the usage of VR software reduced a patient’s pain by 24% on average. He said, “That’s a pretty dramatic reduction for an acute pain. It’s not too different from what we see from giving narcotics.”
One company that will be pleased with this outcome is AppliedVR. It is building a library of VR content that it hopes will be effective at alleviating pain and anxiety before, during, and after medical procedures. It has started working with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with its platform being used alongside VR headsets for things like drawing blood, epidurals, and pain management post-operation.
Spiegel told Technology Review that he believes that the technology could be beneficial to those who are in pain or who need help to relax either in hospital or after they go home.
One of the biggest challenges facing this project is finding software developers who will create programs that will make applications that target specific medical problems. However, that is exactly what AppliedVR is attempting to do as it grows its content library.