Virtual Reality Shows Promise as a Pain Management Tool

September 24, 2019

Investigators at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center completed a randomized clinical trial evaluating the impact of on demand Virtual Reality viewing on pain scores for hospitalized patients.  Results, published in a paper in PLOS-ONE evaluated the impact on 120 patients with pain scores >3/10 randomly assigned to use VR as opposed to a relaxing television selection.  The VR group showed a significant reduction in pain scores for up to 72 hours, with the most pronounced reduction shown in patients with an initial pain score over 7/10.  Narcotic usage did not vary between the groups.      

In their discussion, the authors conclude that their findings “build upon earlier studies and further indicate that VR is an effective adjunctive therapy to complement traditional pain management protocols in hospitalized patients.” They feel that future research should assess the ideal use of VR for hospitalized pain patients, including the most effective protocols, ideal patient characteristics for response, and the potential for VR to act as an initial option for breakthrough pain to possibly reduce overall narcotic usage.