LAS VEGAS — Canadian researchers are examining the potential for immersive virtual reality (VR) to provide prolonged analgesia in patients with chronic pain, according to research presented at PAINWeek 2019, held September 3-7 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

As VR was found to provide analgesic benefits in patients with acute pain during, but not after, the intervention, researchers sought to determine whether immersive VR could provide a longer-term effect in patients with chronic pain. In this longitudinal study in which 47 adults with chronic pain were enrolled, participants were randomly assigned to receive an immersive VR session with the use of a stereoscopic VR headset or an alternative intervention in which they were exposed to a 2-dimensional computer screen, both for a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times per week. Participants were asked to rate their pain levels using a 10-point numeric rating scale and brief pain inventory on paper questionnaires at baseline and before and after each session. Outcomes were recorded in an electronic data analysis software.

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Currently, the data and thematic elements of the concluded study are under processing review. As of yet, no major negative events associated with VR were reported in the cohort.

“While the results of this research study are not yet available, the design of the study itself addresses crucial aspects of the viability of VR interventions for chronic pain patients,” noted the investigators.

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Reference

Li R, Warke B, Gromala D, Garrett B, Taverner T. Does immersive virtual reality provide modulate chronic pain: a longitudinal study design. Presented at: PAINWeek 2019, September 3-7, 2019, Las Vegas, NV. Poster 23.