Easing Chronic Pain, Anxiety and Depression
“There are over 100 clinical research papers that are already published that show proven positive clinical outcomes using VR in managing chronic pain, anxiety and depression,” she says. “And in dementia patients, all those three elements are very common.”
For example, in the 1990s, pioneering researchers at the University of Washington developed SnowWorld, an icy virtual environment that reduced pain for burn victims during wound treatment. More recently, Dr. Albert Rizzo’s lab at the University of Southern California has helped military veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder, by offering exposure therapy in virtual environments. The Veterans United Foundation has created virtual reality experiences of veterans’ memorials, for vets who can’t travel to see them. And scientists at the Chronic Pain Research Institute have tested a virtual meditative walk meant to help users manage pain and stress.
Seniors can revisit their childhoods by viewing images of their homes, towns and neighborhoods.
Explore The World
When we let clients use our technology, they feel like they have been transported to locations across the globe. They can experience Hawaiian beaches, French cafes, and the Swiss Alps. They can view the solar system aboard a rocket ship or use a paint brush to create a van Gogh from the artist’s point of view. The options are endless.
VR has also been used to help trigger long term memories and improve communication skills. An aged care-home in Australia is reporting positive results in virtual reality sessions with residents. Originally introduced at two Melbourne aged care-homes as a means of entertaining residents, Mercy Health Lifestyle and Volunteer Manager Karren Gooding said the short virtual reality sessions have had unexpected results.
For the past five months Gooding has used the headsets regularly with 22 patients living with dementia for sessions over one, two and four day periods that take them on virtual tours designed to trigger early memories.
One elderly patient at mercy, shown a virtual tour of Rome and Venice, had long-term memories about his boat trip to Australia. He was able to tell them about his trip coming to Australia, the different vegetation between Australia and Italy, and he spoke about his experiences on the boat.
Another resident, an 86-year-old musician who hadn’t communicated with anyone for months, began tapping her foot in time when taken on a 3D virtual tour of an orchestra. Her husband reportedly was in tears because he hadn’t seen her move like that in months.