Some hospitals have started to use virtual reality as a way to manage pain without potentially-addictive drugs like opioids. In Memphis, Tenn., for instance, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is testing VR for pain relief in children with sickle cell disease, Modern Healthcare reports. Still, some physicians urge caution, describing the impact as modest, and best combined with traditional pain relief. A number companies, big and small, are testing VR in health care for conditions ranging from phobias to post-traumatic stress disorder. ~LinkedIn News, Healthcare Feed, May 2019
How virtual reality applies to healthcare
By Children’s Hospital Colorado & University of Colorado School of Medicine
“We’re already using virtual and extended reality technologies as a tool for procedural support,” says pediatric anesthesiologist James Thomas, MD. “Basically as anxiety reduction or distraction during mild to moderately painful procedures.”
For example, some cancer patients need a procedure called a lumbar puncture, where medicine is injected into the spinal fluid. It’s moderately painful. Most adults get it awake, but because it can be distressing for children, patients at Children’s Colorado almost always get it asleep. But going under anesthesia isn’t easy. Patients fast for eight hours beforehand, and the anesthesia requires more prep time and staff than the lumbar puncture itself. With the recovery time afterward, a 20-minute procedure can eat up a whole day. Using virtual reality as a calming distraction, several patients are now getting lumbar punctures awake. Every one of them has been enthusiastic about it so far.