Groundbreaking experiment in virtual reality uses video game to treat pain
.... Lt. Brown endured more than two dozen painful surgeries, but the most excruciating pain came from the daily wound care and the physical therapy that followed. The procedures were so unbearable that there were times when Brown's superior officers would have to order him to undergo treatment.
Brown was deeply concerned about growing dependent on the addictive painkilling narcotics he needed to take. So, his doctor suggested something completely unexpected to relieve his pain: a video game.
“I was a little bit skeptical. But honestly, I was willing to try anything,” Brown admitted.
A video game may sound silly, but this particular game, SnowWorld, is a groundbreaking experiment in virtual reality. In SnowWorld, Brown could concentrate on throwing snowballs at penguins and mastodons to the music of Paul Simon, instead of focusing on the painful wound care happening at the same time.
Dr. Maani explained that SnowWorld uses the age old trick of distraction.
“It's saying, ‘Hey, look over there,’ when you rip off your child's band aid,” Dr. Maani said.
The video game provides the distraction that overwhelms the senses and diverts the brain’s attention away from processing the pain signals.
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