Journal:Annals of Behavioral Medicine
Year, Volume, Issue, Page(s):11, 41, 2, 183-191
Article reviews evidence from clinical and laboratory research studies exploring the use of virtual reality (VR) to control pain in burn patients undergoing painful medical procedures. VR analgesia has been demonstrated in burn patients both during daily wound care and during physical therapy. Burn patients report 35 to 50 percent reductions in procedural pain while in a distracting immersive virtual reality, and functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans show associated reductions in pain-related brain activity during VR. VR distraction appears to be most effective for patients with the highest pain intensity levels. VR is thought to reduce pain by directing patients' attention into the virtual world, leaving less attention available to process incoming neural signals from pain receptors. The authors briefly describe how VR pain distraction systems have been tailored to the unique needs of burn patients to date, and speculate about how VR systems could be tailored to the needs of other patient populations in the future.