Innovative VR Experiences Offer an Escape From Painful Medical Procedures

illustration of VR headset being used in a medical context

New virtual reality devices, such as Smileyscope, have emerged as innovative tools to alleviate pain during medical procedures, particularly benefiting children undergoing blood draws or IV insertions.

Recently FDA-cleared, Smileyscope provides an immersive underwater adventure, significantly reducing self-reported pain levels (up to 60%) and anxiety levels (up to 40%) in clinical trials with over 200 children aged 4 to 11.

Smileyscope's efficacy transcends mere distraction; it leverages VR to engage the brain with diverse stimuli, effectively closing the "gates" through which pain signals travel.

Going beyond conventional approaches, Smileyscope offers immersive encounters directly linked to medical procedures, offering a positive reframing of the stimuli.

illustration of VR headset being used in a medical context

In the realm of chronic pain management, pioneering efforts like RelieVRx, FDA-authorized in 2021, introduce VR therapies to address the intricate challenges of persistent pain.

RelieVRx is designed to teach chronic pain sufferers various strategies, including mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and relaxation.

Going beyond distraction, the device focuses on imparting skills that address both the physiological and psychological aspects of chronic pain.

With a home-use design, RelieVRx enhances accessibility by enabling patients to access behavioral pain treatment without scheduled therapist appointments.

Why is this good news?

By providing an immersive and positive environment, these technologies alleviate anxiety and reduce self-reported pain levels, making medical interventions less distressing and influencing their future interactions with the health care system.

This is particularly crucial in childhood, as negative experiences can lead to avoidance behaviors that may impact seeking health care in the future.

By providing an engaging escape during medical procedures, VR interventions like Smileyscope and RelieVRx offer new possibilities for improving pain management and patient outcomes.

Article Details

December 10, 2023 8:29 PM
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