Virtual Reality May Ease Pain
Virtual reality could potentially help ease people’s pain. That’s what researchers have believed for a while. A recent study says that when someone is listening to audio while seeing immersive images, their pain is lessened.
The researchers at York St. John University concluded this after they had a group of adults immerse their hands over a long time in ice cold water while they were playing a virtual reality game on the Oculus headset with and without any sounds. 79 seconds was the amount of time that was recorded for the individual who was playing the virtual game with sounds on. But the other group (with images, but no sound) only lasted for 56 seconds. And when they both placed their hands without the headsets, they only lasted for 30 seconds.
Until now, only hospitals and labs that were able to afford pricey virtual reality equipment had the chance of managing patient’s pain with VR. However, the latest launches of cheaper devices such as Samsung Gear VR and the Oculus Rift are making researchers hopeful that this technology will be adopted widely.
According to Sam Sharar a professor at the University of Washington, pain can be eased by the use of virtual reality. It helps in diverting the patients’ attention and so it’s plausible that one would be more distracted with images and sound.
Houman Danesh agrees that diverting a person’s mind does help a person to feel less pain, but he is not sure how this technology will benefit other people who might be experiencing other forms of pain. Houman said, “The cold-water temperature test is a good analogy, but we don’t know if it will cross over to real-world implications.”