"Pain is not an objective experience — context determines its intensity. We
experience it more acutely when we’re tense, anxious, or overly focused on it.
And while every parent knows that a child can be distracted by putting him or
her in front of a screen, studies demonstrate that VR is significantly more
effective for pain management, especially when the games are interactive. “We
compared: When you distract kids with cartoons, picture books or videos, it
works, too,” says Gold. “But VR is significantly more effective because our
brain does not differentiate between a virtual and the real environment.”
Because of Covid restrictions, we weren’t able to interact with patients
directly. Instead, Gold shows a video to demonstrate how VR makes painful
procedures less traumatic: 12-year-old Anthony, in his Star Wars shirt and VR
mask, enthusiastically thrusts his head into the air while a nurse prepares the
IV to treat his neuromuscular disorder. (Since the kids need to keep their
hands and bodies still for the treatment, the game was modified to be steered
with head movements alone.) He whimpers quietly as the needle enters his arm,
but as his mother confirms afterward, “No comparison to last time. Without VR,
he screamed and cried.” Another patient, 15-year-old Ben, remains motionless
when a nurse connects the port catheter to his boney chest for cancer therapy.
He’s serene, and seems to be entirely immersed in “Bear Blast.”"
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics