Sunday, February 26, 2006

Psychotech Pain Relief!

Put on a $32,000 VR (Virtual Reality) helmet. Feel it fit snugly against your face. Suddenly you are sailing through the air in a deep glacial canyon, a cool blue river lies below, and picturesque snowflakes drift down.

As you look around
, you see snowmen, igloos, an occasional penguin, and a few murderous robots, standing on narrow ice shelves along the sides of the canyon. Press a button and snowballs shoot forward. Arcing tails streak across the sky as your snowballs fly toward their targets, which explode satisfyingly when you score a hit. You are having fun playing in SnowWorld!

Virtual reality headgear has been around for a number of years. To create an illusion of stereoscopic vision and to exclude external visual stimuli, all VR set-ups use a pair of eyepieces mounted as close to the head as possible. The better systems are built with high-resolution monitors for each eye (for true 3-D), and motion sensors to allow the scene to shift as the person moves their head.
When the helmet is off, your every move hurts. Even with opiate pain medications, every touch causes excruciating pain. If you are a burn patient having dressings changed at Seattle, Washington's Harborview Medical Center.

Distraction, according to Harborview staff psychologist David Patterson (an expert on pain management), is known to be an effective way to reduce pain and anxiety, especially in a hospital setting.
Note from Technophile: Patterson and the University of Washington experimental psychologist Hunter Hoffman have been conducting a study in acute pain management in burn patients for a long time. They have tried hypnosis, relaxation therapy, guided imagery, and video games. "Immersive virtual reality" is one of the most effective methods they have seen!
:: Source: [Virtually Better]
:: Innovation: Using immersive virtual reality to reduce patient's suffering!


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