VR Is The New Frontier in Pain Management
A much-needed new path for pain management
Prescribing opioid painkillers as part of a traditional approach to pain management is common in the United States, but the practice has catalyzed a nationwide opioid addiction crisis. Over 130 Americans die each day after overdosing on opioids, and roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
Finding solutions for pain relief that aren’t pills has never been more important, says Nemeth. He tested the HP-powered Intel® Core™ i7 processor based-VR systems in a clinical trial last year after reaching out to Firsthand about its technology.
“We [used to say], ‘OK, you have pain, I will give you a pill, and now your pain is fixed,’” he says. “But data came out and said that prescribing opioids, for instance, isn’t really making anyone any better.”
As more and more hospitals and healthcare centers explore VR as a tool for pain management, it stands to not only bring much-needed relief to pain sufferers, but also to become an important front in the fight to treat pain without opioids. Industry analysts predict the market for healthcare applications using virtual and augmented reality will reach $5.1 billion by 2025, reaching more than 3 million patients.
“For a patient who has suffered with chronic pain for a great number of years, five minutes of relief, or 20 minutes of relief spent in a virtual reality headset might not seem like much, but to them, those moments are priceless,” Nemeth says.