Can Virtual Reality Reduce Pain for Burns Patients?

GAMES BRITANNIA 2017 Playstation VR crop

Burns patients often suffer excruciating pain during dressing changes, even with analgesia. Ivan Phelan and his team have just been awarded MRC ‘Confidence in Concept’ research funding to use Virtual Reality (VR) as a distraction from the pain and discomfort experienced during these clinical procedures.

During the first phase Ivan plans to recruit student volunteers to take part in a controlled, induced ‘pain’ situation. This will be the ‘cold-pressor’ test where participants will immerse their hand in a sink of very cold water for as long as they can.  This will test both ‘active’ (highly immersive) and ‘passive’ VR scenarios. The team will measure the length of time the volunteers are able to keep their hand in the water for each VR scenario being played to determine which are best for distracting from the pain.

Active and passive scenarios will then be tested under clinical conditions (dressing changes) with real burns in-patients, compared against a ‘control’ condition. Pain and anxiety ratings will be measured and interviews conducted with patients and nursing staff.

It’s early days for this project, but C3RI Impact Blog will follow developments and keep you updated.