Virtual Reality Treatment Helping to Ease the Pain for Ayer Neuroscience Institute Patients

Christine Chiappone’s pain management physician, Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute’s Dr. Adrian Hamburger , asked her to try a new treatment, using virtual reality (VR) technology for non-narcotic pain management.

“I thought, ‘That’s going to get rid of this pain?’ ” Christine recalls. “It looked like the video games I played with my nephew. But at this point I was willing to try anything.”

Two weekly treatments lasting about 20 minutes each — with Christine donning a VR headset in an exam room outfitted with computer hardware and sensors. After about a half-dozen visits, “It was working,” Christine says. “I didn’t understand why it was working but it was working.” Pain that had been at an 8-10 level was around a 2-3 level, and she found herself becoming more active. As her visits added up, the effects would last longer. And if she had a pain flare up, Christine could visualize her VR world, and help herself relax and change her focus from the pain to something else.