June 26, 2017
The concept of virtual reality is far from new. Decades ago, the tech was conceived as a fun way to immerse gamers into the environments they had come to love. However, with bulky and expensive set ups, combined with poor graphics and clunky gameplay, these gaming experiences never took off. Today though, smartphones and VR headsets have made this technology easier than ever to adapt into your everyday life. And if you do, it could improve your health more than you realize.
While gaming has been the primary goal of virtual reality, its inability to glean mainstream attention has been a thorn in the industry's side for years. Fortunately, the health sector is providing a unique opportunity for virtual reality, as it has been shown to have some surprisingly positive effects on users well-being.
With doctors prescribing everything from expensive physical therapy treatments to dangerously addictive prescription drugs to treatment pain in their patients, a less costly option would be nice. Fortunately, virtual reality has been shown to reduce chronic and acute pain in multiple studies.
In addition to general pain management, virtual reality has other, more unconventional means of treating those in pain. Amputees, for example, often feel pain in their missing appendage, which can be difficult to treat with typical pain killers. But with a method called “virtual mirror therapy,” they can get back to normal.
Reduce Stress from Cancer Treatment
There's no denying the fact that a cancer diagnosis can be one of the hardest and most stressful times in a person's life. From chemo treatment to invasive surgeries, the regiment for cancer is nothing short of brutal. Fortunately, virtual reality has a number of different methods that can help patients deal with it.
For one, patients immersed in virtual reality environments during chemo has shown to have a truly beneficial impression, taking them out of the stressful medical facility and into something a little more relaxing.
Immersion therapy is a viable, albeit unsettling way of dealing with fears and phobias. But surrounding the patient in the thing they fear the most, the eventually realize that their fear is unsubstantiated and can go on living life. And virtual reality is nothing if not the perfect means of administering this treatment.
Virtual reality can also be used in graded-exposure therapy, which is a gradual increase of the fear in patients. Virtual reality is perfect for this as it allows you to fully control what level of stimulus will be administered on a turn-by-turn basis. Either way, patients will have nothing to fear, as the experience is virtually the safest place they can be.
Read more about virtual reality on Tech.Co
Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
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