Virtual Reality is reducing the need for opioids and sedatives

Across the United States, hospitals rely more and more on Virtual Reality (VR) headsets to relieve their patients' pain.

Jeffrey Gold, a doctor at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles, believes that virtual reality can eliminate the need for billions of dollars worth of pain management drugs. So, he developed a game in cooperation with the software company Applied VR and uses it with his young patients when they undergo medical procedures, such as IV preparation or bandages replacement.

He explains that pain highly depends on the context. Indeed, pain is more acute when we are stressed out or overly focused on it. But, on the other hand, our body produces natural endorphins, which are a neurochemical analgesic, when we’re having fun.

Studies demonstrate that VR especially interactive games is significantly more effective than any other distraction for pain management. Indeed, our brain is unable to tell the difference between a virtual and a real environment.

Why does it matter? VR can have a broad range of usages, from purely managing pain to eliminating anxiety or simply distracting a kid to make them stay still. Whatever the use case, it always reduces the need for drugs and prevents the associated side effects (e.g. adverse reaction, addiction). Also, using VR before surgeries can lead to shorter recovery times and better overall postoperative outcomes. Otherwise, nurses and doctors are more relaxed and are in better dispositions to do a great job.

It’s a refreshing change of pace to see video games and technology being praised for their health benefits, especially when it means reducing the need for pain medication and sedation.