Surviving severe burns is excruciatingly painful. Patients endure daily wound care, therapy, and surgery resulting in agonizing sessions lasting hours.
Powerful opioid medications provide limited relief and come with significant side effects and risks. But new virtual reality (VR) distraction techniques offer new hope for burns survivors to reduce reliance on opioids.
VR uses specialized goggles to immerse patients in simulated 3D worlds which engage their senses. Research shows VR reduces pain by over 50% compared to other distraction methods across over 60 health conditions. For burns patients undergoing intensely painful procedures, VR can be a godsend.
In randomized studies of burns survivors, patients using VR during wound care and physical therapy reported dramatic decreases in pain versus those receiving standard care.
VR also lowered anxiety, boosting mental health.
The immersive sights and sounds of VR gaming divert patients' brains from fully processing pain signals from their injuries. The more absorbing the virtual world, the less attention patients can allocate to their hurt.
VR also empowers patients with control over their care, counteracting the helplessness many feel.
While more research is still needed, VR as a non-opioid pain relief adjunct aligns with clinical best practices for burns care. Limiting opioid use decreases dependence and side effects, supporting functional recovery.
Widespread adoption of VR means accessing relief is scalable for all burns units and patients.
For burns survivors facing grueling daily wound care, physical therapy, and surgery, VR finally offers a ray of hope. Virtual worlds provide engrossing distraction to transport patients away from their pain, if only for a little while each day.
For those brave individuals fighting to heal from severe burns, VR represents a powerful new pain relief tool.