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Promising results of VR for pain relief

Promising results of VR for pain relief

The researchers have investigated the effects of VR on hospital patients (Photo: Colourbox/ILLUSTRASIONS PHOTO)

Researchers at INN University have tested how Virtual Reality can affect hospital patients’ experience of pain.

The researchers equipped the patients at a hospital in Eastern Norway with various VR glasses and played three-dimensional videos that, among other things, were to give the experience of being in the depths of the sea or on a trip in nature. The purpose was to provide new knowledge about the choice and use of technical equipment and gain experience with VR from patients at an orthopaedic ward.

The immersive experience that VR can provide could make the technology suitable for drawing attention away from pain and discomfort. Therefore, VR technology has a potential as diversion or distraction therapy in various settings, including as an offer in hospitals, which is described in several previous studies.

Associate professor  Hege Jansen Skavern, associate professor  Tuva Sandsdalen and associate professor Marit Aralt Skaug, all at the  Faculty of Social and Health Sciences, have now published a  paper about the results in Nordisk sygeplejeforskning (Nordic Nursing Research).

The pilot study shows that VR may be used as a non-medical alternative that nurses can offer patients with postoperative pain. Pain-affected newly operated patients stated that the VR experience provided pain relief, and a comfortable, soothing mental and physical well-being that lasted for several hours.

The INN University researchers’ pilot study will lead to a main project where different types of VR experience for different patient groups at different ages will be tested. The study will examine whether VR can provide pain relief, but also a distraction from negative thoughts and long days, including for children who stay in hospital for long periods and for cancer patients during chemotherapy.