Scientists at Imperial College London have announced that they have found that the use of VR heads can fight the increase in pain. Specifically, immersing people in virtual reality of icebergs, cold ocean and ice can help alleviate the pain. A team conducted a small proof-of-concept study using VR devices to reduce subjects’ pain scores and sensitivity to pain stimuli.
The team says the findings suggest VR can help people with chronic pain. In addition to the distraction spout spline, the researchers believe, allowing people to immerse themselves in VR may trigger the body’s own pain-relief system, reducing its sensitivity to pain stimuli and reducing the intensity of persistent pain.
The team’s research suggests that virtual reality can interfere with processes in the brain, brain stem and spinal cord that are thought to be part of the body’s comprehensive pain-fighting system. Previous studies have tried to use virtual reality as a way to distract patients from pain during dental surgery. The latest study aims to see if it works in a simulated model of chronic pain.
The trial involved 15 healthy volunteers who used a cream containing capsaicin, a compound in chili peppers, that causes burns to the mouth. The cream makes the skin more sensitive to the pain irritation of minor shocks, and participants use VR heads to watch the Arctic Expedition VR scene or still images of the Arctic scene on a monitor to assess the pain level at a scale of 0-100.
The team found that test ers who watched VR scenes continued to experience reduced pain and less sensitivity to pain stimuli, and those who viewed still images of the Arctic did not see the same effect.