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Virtual Reality Therapy May Help Decrease Pain, Study Reveals [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 31, 2017 09:52 AM EDT

Research demonstrated that virtual reality therapy may help decrease pain in patients-more effective than a two-dimensional (2D) video.

Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center sought to compare the impact of a single exposure to a three-dimensional virtual reality (VR) therapy and a 2D video distraction on the patients' level of pain. Based on the Numeric Pain Rating Scale ranging from zero to 10, a hundred patients admitted to the hospital rated their pain with scores of three and higher before they had a VR experience or watched the 2D videos.

Split into two, half of the participants wore VR goggles and the rest viewed 2D videos, both containing relaxing scenery. Compared to the initial pain scores, the first group rated the intensity of pain 24 percent less, whereas the second reported a 13.2 percent decrease.

Although the specific mechanism that led to these results were not clearly identified, the authors gave a plausible explanation. They suggested that virtual reality brought an "immersive distraction" which blocked the mind's ability to process other stimuli such as pain.

The researchers believed it may serve as a useful tool to reinforce traditional pain management which often involves pain medication. They admit that virtual reality therapy may help decrease pain, but sustaining its effect for a longer period may require frequent sessions with varied contents, the Medical Xpress reported.

Living with chronic pain outside the confines of the hospital is challenging but there are several methods that could help manage it. Engaging in meditation and deep breathing exercises may ease the pain as they induce body and mind relaxation.

People may find pain relief from utilizing techniques that lower stress levels because negative emotions arising from stressful situations make sensitivity to pain higher. Listening to calming music and exposure to relaxing imagery can help achieve a sense of peace in the mind, according to WebMD.

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