1. Chronic Pain
Pain management remains a core therapeutic area for VR. Researchers have found that if you flood the neural pathways with alternate signals, patients can potentially feel less pain. This has heightened importance as the key alternate treatment, opioids, has only moderate efficacy, but severe side effects including the risk of addiction.
Applied VR received FDA De Novo clearance in 2021 for its VR therapeutic for chronic lower back pain. A pivotal study earlier this year showed an 8-week treatment cycle reduced pain intensity over 6 months, compared with a sham app.
2. Procedural Pain
VR can be effective at improving a patient’s experience when having a medical procedure, either by reducing anxiety before the procedure or reducing pain during the procedure.
A recent study found patients using virtual reality while undergoing hand surgery required less anesthesia during surgery.
A VR pain management intervention worked as well as guided imagery among children and young adults undergoing unsedated procedures, according to another study.
3. Anxiety & Phobias
Virtual reality can be a powerful weapon against anxiety. It can directly target the anxiety triggers, offer a source of distraction, provide education, coping skills training, and behavioral therapy.
BehaVR has partnered with Sumitomo Pharma to use VR across a range of mental health conditions. One of these is Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) which is estimated to affect 7% of the US population, and the other is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
Gradually exposing patients to their fears and phobias through a range of social scenarios in a safe virtual environment under the guidance of a therapist, can help them overcome their fears in the real world.
A recent study found that patients who had VR therapy in addition to their standard care had a significant reduction in agoraphobic avoidance and distress compared to their peers who just received the usual care.