Virtual reality as pain management is taking off

VR is quickly becoming a new alternative to more traditional methods of pain management, NPR reported, with patients escaping their chronic pain by strapping on a VR headset and becoming immersed in a different reality.

The experience, which helps the brain take focus off pain temporarily, could help reduce the dependence on pain pills.

For some patients, the relaxing effects of a VR simulation, such as swimming with dolphins or walking through a forest, can last for days. Recent studies also support that VR can change the way patients perceive pain, and the explanations why vary.

But many agree that engaging the mind keeps other stimuli, like pain, out.

“In other words, when something captures our attention and uses all our senses, we focus on it,” NPR reporter. “It's like a spotlight—and everything else falls into darkness—at least temporarily.”

The findings come at a time when the opioid abuse epidemic claimed 68,000 lives in 2018.

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