Virtual reality could help alleviate pain, scientists say

  • VR
  • Wednesday, 13 Nov 2019

The study shows at VR can potentially help people living with chronic pain to lead better lives. — AP

A new study shows that virtual reality (VR) is capable of relieving pain sensations, further proving that the technology could be used as therapy for chronic pain sufferers.

As reported by The Telegraph, the study, conducted by researchers at Imperial College London, placed a small group of participants in an immersive VR world. A cream with capsaicin – an active component of chilli peppers that releases a fiery sensation upon contact – was applied to their legs.

This was done to make the area of skin where the cream was applied more sensitive to a small electric shock that researchers applied to it to stimulate pain.

Another group was also subjected to the same, but without the benefit of any VR use.

Participants testing the VR technology claimed to have felt less pain compared to their counterparts who did not have access to the technology.

The scientists deduct that VR has the capability of disrupting pain's pathway to the brain, and could be instrumental in regulating a person's exposure to pain.

The study shows that VR could potentially be used to treat bedridden patients with severe injury or pain as no movement is required to benefit from this technology, although more tests would be needed to prove the technology's effectiveness in mediating pain as the experiment was conducted on 15 healthy individuals.

"The aim of this study was to show VR has the ability to change the pathological processing associated with chronic pain," Dr Sam Hughes, an author of the study was quoted as saying.

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