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Can Virtual Reality Take Away the Pain?

A virtual reality platform couples software with VR glasses to offer patients an immersive distraction during medical procedures.

Design News Staff

October 26, 2022

2 Min Read
virtual reality Distraction Therapy HTC
Portable HTC VIVE Flow glasses help immerse users in XRHealth’s virtual reality platform.Image courtesy of XRHealth

XRHealth, a healthcare metaverse platform provider, has teamed up with virtual reality company HTC VIVE to introduce a new VR platform to distract patients from pain and anxiety. Called distraction therapy, the approach combines XRHealth software with HTC’s VIVE Flow glasses to help patients undergoing chemotherapy, surgery, MRIs, childbirth, burn trauma, and other procedures.

“Distraction therapy enables the patient to have a positive experience during painful medical procedures without being over sedated with extraneous medication that sometimes creates a longer recovery process,” explained Eran Orr, chief executive officer of XRHealth, in a news release. “The immersive and virtual environment removes patients from the pain of the current experience and transports them into a digital world that provides comfort and relief.”

According to XRHealth’s web page on stress and anxiety, “VR therapy is a fully immersive experience that can encourage nervous system regulation—from an anxious fight-or-flight state to a parasympathetic state of calm and ease.” The company also offers therapeutic care “virtual rooms,” using what it describes as extended reality (XR) technology (virtual and augmented reality).

The distraction therapy platform is designed for easy integration into hospitals and clinics and for seamless patient set up. XRHealth's software allows clinicians to view what patients are experiencing and communicate with them without breaking the digital immersive experience, according to the release. Clinicians also receive real-time data updates during use.

The lightweight, portable VIVE Flow glasses offer ease of use during multiple types of medical procedures. “VIVE Flow was designed to be comfortable and lightweight, which lets the hardware fade into the background so people can fully immerse in the magic of VR,” explained Cher Wang, cofounder and chairwoman at HTC, in the release. “Paired with XR Health’s groundbreaking platform, we’re on the cusp of a new era of effective and convenient VR treatments that offer support for patients to manage pain, anxiety, and more.”

XRHealth’ s immersive VR software was recently studied in a clinical trial with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center physicians. According to results published in the PLOS One article, Virtual reality immersion compared to monitored anesthesia care for hand surgery: A randomized controlled trial, “VR immersion during hand surgery led to significant reductions in intraoperative propofol dose and PACU LOS without negatively impacting key patient reported outcomes.”

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