Ms. Mallick-Searle also noted several barriers to more widespread study and clinical implementation, specifically cost and provider/patient acceptance. Current virtual reality software packages range from freeware to custom equipment worth thousands of dollars. 

“We know that immersive virtual reality experiences are effective. The ability to have a clinic that puts patients in an alternate state with virtual reality goggles and tactile devices is cost dependent,” she said.

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Patients must also be willing to accept virtual reality as a plausible therapy after having become used to traditional therapies like injections, medications, physical therapy, and acupuncture.

“If you have a practitioner that isn’t skilled at delivering virtual reality therapy, then patients are going to be skeptical,” Ms. Mallick-Searle said.

Disclosure: Theresa Mallick-Searle is a member of speaker’s bureaus for Allergan and Depomed.


1. Maani CV, Hoffman HG, Morrow M, et  al. Virtual reality pain control during burn wound debridement of combat-related burn injuries using robot-like arm mounted VR goggles. J Trauma. 2011;71(10):S125-S130.

2. Hoffman HG, Chambers GT, Meyer WJ III, et al. Virtual reality as adjunctive non-pharmacologic analgesic for acute burn pain during medical procedures. Ann Behav Med. 2011;41(2):183-191.

This article originally appeared on MPR