VR for pain relief

A recent review article published in The Clinical Journal of Pain provides a detailed overview of the clinical studies using virtual reality (VR) during several painful and stressful medical procedures, including burn injury treatments, chemotherapy, surgery, dental treatment and other diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

“VR has proven to be very effective in relieving pain, even in patients subjected to extremely painful procedures, who do not receive proper relief with pharmacological treatments alone,” said Dr Antonio Giordano of the Sbarro Health Research Organization at Temple University, US, and University of Siena, Italy, and corresponding author of the article. “Moreover, VR decreases cancer-related symptoms in different settings, including during chemotherapy. This is remarkable, considering that identifying interventions able to enhance treatment tolerance is crucial to improve both patients’ quality of life and compliance to therapies, which, in turn, can increase their chances of recovery.”

Study author Paola Indovina of the Institute for High Performance Computing and Networking (ICAR-CNR), Naples, Italy, said that, in spite of the promising results, further studies involving a greater number of patients are required. “Moreover, more efforts should be put into the evaluation of changes in physiological factors, which might provide objective confirmations of the patients’ self-report measures,” she said. “Also, more studies should explore VR efficacy after several repeated sessions to assess possible long-term benefits of the VR intervention.”