Oct 06

Virtual Reality a game changer in health

virtual reality

The race is on to build better and cheaper Virtual Reality sets with the likes of Facebook Inc., Sony Corp. and HTC  Corp. all competing. With the phenomenal success of Pokémon in augmenting reality, it would be naïve not to look at how these technologies can help the treatment of many conditions. Especially as we are aware that swamping the brain with an overload of sensory inputs—such as with the immersion in a virtual world—changes the brain’s capacity to process pain, reported in Bloomberg technology.



3 conditions where it can make a difference

  • Intense pain
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression

3 barriers to overcome

  • Price – the price of hardware has fallen but is still between $600-$1000 US dollars and you will need access to a computer. However, the price of a headset and software is tiny compared to the expense of keeping a patient in the hospital for an extra day.
  • Access to effective and a variety of software– To work, it has to be something you want to be immersed in and have enough variety that you will not get sick of it.
  • Security – making sure that the equipment is not stolen. Some are being fitted with GPS systems so they can be tracked.

We know that relaxation techniques like hypnosis, yoga, and meditation decrease your perception of pain. Will Virtual Reality be able to do the same? It’s still a new and experimental approach, but early tests at Stanford University show that Virtual Reality, like meditation, can calm the nervous system, and dampen the brains ability to process pain. Another research center examined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of patients’ brains, which showed they actually experienced less pain. Proponents of VR are quick to point out that it could have a big benefit over drugs, which can lead to tolerance over prolonged use and sometimes addiction. But VR’s effectiveness still has to be proven, particularly when trying to combat chronic pain. Does the effect last when the headset comes off?

Virtual Reality undoubtedly has an effect on the human mind. It will be wonderful when these are available for widespread use in and out of hospitals and also at a reasonable price for chronic suffers to use at home.


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