Virtual pain relief

Virtual reality can transport our minds to incredible digital worlds. Now some doctors are using the technology to help patients escape their pain during difficult procedures.  

Kevin Wash is finding relief from his pain, immersing his mind in a 360 degree world of snow and ice. His back was severely burned in a small explosion at work. 

"There is 1 time when I did it doing wound care," he says. "They have to peel off my bandages while I'm there, and they peeled off a couple bandages and I didn't even really notice," he adds.
 
Kevin is one of a number of patients using virtual reality to help manage pain.

Dr. David Patterson of the University of Washington School of Medicine helped pioneer the technique. He says virtual reality distracts the brain, so there's less focus on the pain.
 
"The areas of the brain that light up with pain light up less and they're just not processing as much," he explains.

Patterson uses a game called 'Snow World.' Using VR goggles, patients hit targets with snowballs to take  their minds off their procedures.
 
Hunter Hoffman, Ph.D.,  UW Human Photonics Lab says, "overall we're seeing 35% reductions in pain is pretty typical, where you see somebody's pain drop from severe to moderate."
 

Researchers believe the technique can also be used in other medical situations like dental procedures and childbirth. It's already being used  help hypnotize patients before procedures to help reduce anxiety levels.
 
Dr. Hoffman holds the copyright on the video game for.  Ari Hollander and Howard Rose are credited for worldbuilding and video.
 
 
 
 


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