There comes a time when you or your loved ones suffer from a terminal illness. The focus then turns to making the most of the time you have left and ensuring that any pain and suffering are minimized. This is where palliative care comes in.
One of the challenges that our team at Lucky Palliative Services, Inc. faces is managing pain. Pain management is a complex process that often requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Fortunately, researchers are exploring virtual reality (VR) as a new technology that has the potential for pain management.
Here is an overview of VR and its potential for pain management in palliative care.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. VR technology creates a computer-generated environment that lets you interact with three-dimensional images.
VR headsets cover your eyes and ears. You can look around and move in VR. Some VR systems let you interact with the images you see.
How Can Virtual Reality Help in Palliative Care?
Researchers are discovering the potential of VR as a non-invasive pain management tool in palliative care. When you use VR, you can distract yourself from pain by focusing on the VR experience. This distraction technique is called “immersion.”
Immersion is a way of using VR to block out the real world and replace it with a computer-generated environment. When you immerse yourself in a VR world, your neural pathways can be modified. Your brain can be less aware of real-world stimuli that might be causing pain.
The VR experience has the potential to be a distraction therapy that helps you focus your attention away from your pain. Your attention shifts to a more relaxing experience that is within your control. The best thing is that you don’t have to use your mental energy to create these calming settings.
When using VR in palliative care, you can choose the type of content you want to experience in the virtual environment. You can select natural content, aquatic scenes, or interactive content that requires more attention. The goal is to choose the content that induces the highest level of relaxation.