Are you afraid of surgeries? Virtual reality could help you

Virtual reality is not only for doctors, it is also for patients

Fear of surgeries? Virtual reality could help you

Currently, the use of virtual reality in medicine is increasingly common. However, beyond being a support technology for doctors to train, virtual reality also has multiple benefits for patients, both physical and mental health. Then, virtual reality is a tool that also contributes to the well-being of people, both for adults and for the children.

Leer en español: ¿Miedo a las cirugías? La realidad virtual podría ayudarte

In fact, a report by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) revealed that the use of virtual reality before and after surgery could help reduce levels of anxiety and pain perception in children. The report refers to two studies presented during the annual anesthesiology meeting that took place in October 2018.

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The first study found that virtual reality treatment helped control both the levels of anxiety and preoperative stress and the perception of postoperative pain in the youngest, as suggested by the ASA on its website. The study was conducted in 21 children, 10 of whom were induced to a hypnotic state with this technology.

After being subjected to virtual reality, "only 20 percent in the VRH group required pain medication (IV morphine), while 37.5 percent of the VRH group required anti-anxiety medication. The total intravenous morphine consumption during the 72 hours after surgery was significantly lower in the VRH group: 1.18 mg / kg". The latter was a very relevant discovery, because it means that the recovery process of these children would be much faster, according to ASA.

The second study yielded the same positive results, the only thing that changed was the procedure. In this, children and young people who participated were given a virtual reality game that would help distract patients during certain procedures that are carried out before and after surgery. As a result, levels of anxiety and pain perception also decreased.

This game, which is part of a program launched by Stanford University, "allows the user or clinician to reorient the game in real time and adjust the cognitive load to increase its ability to distract patients, so it decreases his perception of pain". If the patient changed the position of his head, for example, the scene also changed with this movement thus achieving its purpose: to distract him.

Other uses of virtual reality for patients

It is evident how the use of virtual reality becomes more common every day to help patients to go through certain situations that can become stressful, which brings both physical and mental benefits for them. Another example is found in a study of the Atlantic University of Florida, also conducted in children.

According to Science Daily, the report suggests that virtual reality could also help "reduce children's fear of needles". However, you obviously do not need to be a child to be afraid of needles. Many people have phobia about these objects, so this technology can also help both adults and children, and the same applies to surgeries.

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On the fear of needles, the report points out that the use of virtual reality as a stimulus to distract the patients who participated in this study reported positive results. "The results of the study showed that anticipated versus real pain and fear were reduced in 94.1 percent of the pediatric study subjects", describes the same media.

The use of this technology to treat patients with oncological or neurological problems is also discussed. An example of this is FeelsGood, a company that created a program in which virtual reality is used "for the physical and emotional care of cancer patients". This is intended to provide great benefits both to the mental well-being of the patient by helping to reduce levels of anxiety and stress, and to physical well-being through a rehabilitation program.

LatinAmerican Post | Diana Rojas Leal
Translated from “¿Miedo a las cirugías? La realidad virtual podría ayudarte”

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