Healing Pain with Virtual Reality

Pull that down over your eyes now. We see this as a science. – Wow. – Using therapeutic virtual reality to allow patients to escape a jail cell of a hospital. – A lot of people think of VR as just simply gaming and entertainment, and we start to help them understand that it’s so much more than that. – Virtual reality helps us redefine kind of what we do for actual patient care. – You’ll notice that you can look wherever you want, and what we’ll do is we’ll bring you to Iceland. – Our patients suffer, they suffer grievously, they suffer physically, emotionally, socially. What we’ve been doing is treating them with virtual reality. – There are two reasons why VR really works, one is it blocks out all the threatening sights and sounds. Just removing the environment alone, blindfolding yourself to it and replacing it with something pleasant. – Is that comfortable? – The second part is the more pain you’re in, the more you need to displace that focus onto something else. – And I realized how powerful the illusion of virtual reality can be. By overwhelming the mind with signals, we can essentially distract it. – You can actually reduce the pain that you feel at the time. They’ve even shown this in fMRIs that your pain receptors don’t light up the same way. – So we’ll see if it helps with the pain or not. – Mm-hm. – You’ll tell us. – Yes. – Everyone talks right now about the fact that we’re in a pain crisis. You talk about the opioid epidemic that’s going on. Everyone is looking for a solution. We know that VR has a role to play. – And what we’ve seen is that it reduces pain by about 24% after just about ten minutes on average. – I wasn’t thinking about the pain. – You weren’t? – No, I wasn’t. – Really? – I was just thinking about being there. – It is not necessarily a replacement for opioids, but when somebody has acute pain, it’s at that vulnerable moment where we can potentially insert something like virtual reality, rather than sowing the seeds of opioid dependency by starting somebody at that moment on an opioid. (Music) – So we’re focusing specifically on pain and anxiety. If you think about when someone is going to a hospital or an outpatient, there can be a lot of fear and anxiety. And sometimes on the walls of these places, they’ll put a picture of a beach scene up there. Well think about it with VR, we can actually, literally, transport them to a beach. (Music) – They’re in an immersive 360 degree environment. It’s not like watching a movie. It’s something different and you can see it. – And it’s just incredible, the transformation that you could observe almost instantly. – The breathing slows and you can see the body language, the patient is sort of comfortably falls back into their bed and almost surrenders to this experience. And that’s when we realized that the treatment is having an effect. – Your mind is elsewhere, you’re not, I wasn’t thinking about the hospital just now, I was thinking about what was going on in there. – What we’re doing is we want to build out a platform that we can, think of it as a VR pharmacy of sort of therapeutic and escapism type content. – The library of different visualizations. – Okay. – We think of this as a new field. I need to be able to pick and choose the right treatment for the right patient at the right time, just like with any other medication. – Because once you see the success, once you see the smile on a patient’s face, whose in pain or experiencing anxiety, you get it. – There’s stars right there now? – Yes, it feels like it. – It’s moments like that, when you’re impacting a patient. – That shows the power a technology could have. – Like, a big cliff. (Music) – How does it make you feel? – Whew, nervous cuz I’m afraid of heights. – Uh-oh. – (Laugh) – You okay? – But it’s peaceful. (Music) – It’s like a dream, you feel all the energy that’s going across the force being directed towards the water. And you feel your impact on the nature around you. (Music) It feels magical, intuitive, and it feels like you have superpowers. (Music)

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