Can VR Help People Manage Pain? (Time Magazine)
by Howard Rose, Firsthand CEO
It’s not everyday that a TIME reporter calls for an interview, but it’s very nice when they do. I had that pleasure, speaking with TIME health writer, Alexandra Sifferlin, who served up very insightful, probing questions on the use of VR for pain. Her article in this week’s TIME Health section is a balanced synopsis of how far we’ve come, VR’s potential to change healthcare, and some of the concerns we must address to reach that potential.
We’re very proud to see the otters from COOL! at the forefront of this revolution in healthcare.
I’d like to respond to one point raised in that article by Dr. Bernie Garrett of UBC School of Nursing, about a patient in his studies who experienced severe motion sickness from VR. We share Dr. Garrett’s concerns that, unless carefully designed, virtual worlds can induce motion sickness. At Firsthand, we have years of experience building virtual worlds that are comfortable and provide a very positive experience to a wide range of people.
While it’s true that some people just don’t react well to the VR experience, we also know very well that if the virtual worlds are well designed and the equipment is of high quality, the problems of motion sickness can be nearly eliminated. For example, Dr. Ted Jone’s recent studies with chronic pain patients using COOL! for multiple 20 minute sessions found little to no problem with motion sickness among his patients.
The takeaway for healthcare is that VR can be very effective when it is designed with specifically for the needs and challenges of the people who will use it. This is the thought and care we put into creating VR experiences like COOL!, and we continue to see very positive results.