Virtual reality is no longer just for entertainment purposes. It can now be used for therapeutic reasons as well.
This post outlines how you can use virtual reality to manage pain and provide relief for various conditions.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation of an environment that allows you to interact with it realistically.
You can do this using a headset and controllers that track your movements, or it can be as simple as looking at a 360-degree video on your phone.
Virtual Reality and Exposure Therapy
VR can provide exposure therapy for conditions like phobias and PTSD, help manage pain, and even improve physical rehabilitation after an injury.
Exposure therapy is a type of behavioral treatment that involves gradually exposing a person to the thing they are afraid of or to environments that help them deal with pain—in this case, virtually.
This strategy can help desensitize them to their fear and make it less intense. For example, someone with a fear of heights could slowly work their way up to standing on a virtual ledge by starting with something less intense, like looking down from a second-story window.
Another main way that VR is being used for therapeutic purposes is to manage chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than three months. It can be caused by a variety of conditions, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and migraines.
VR therapy is also being used in physical rehabilitation. It can be used to help people relearn movement after an injury, stroke, or other neurological condition. For example, a person with paralysis could use VR to practice walking or climbing stairs. In fact, some rehabilitation centers are using VR to provide a safe environment for patients to practice these movements without the risk of falling.
What Makes VR Effective at Managing Pain?
There are many different ways that virtual reality helps you manage pain. One way is by providing a distraction from the pain. It immerses you in a virtual environment that is stimulating and engaging. VR also provides relaxation by exposing you to calming virtual environments, such as a beach or forest. This way, you can take a break from the pain and relax your mind and body.
If you are interested in using VR to manage your pain, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, VR is not a replacement for medication or other treatments. It should be used in addition to other treatments. Second, VR is not a cure for pain. It can help manage the pain and make it more tolerable, but it will not eliminate the pain completely.
Some people may not be able to tolerate the virtual environment or may not find it helpful. So if you are interested in using at-home therapeutic Virtual Reality to manage your pain, talk to your doctor to see if it is right for you.