As new legislation at the state and federal level in the United States seeks to cut down on opioid prescriptions due to chronic pain symptoms that can lead to addiction, healthcare providers are looking for alternative methods of pain management. Samsung is testing its VR technology in hospitals for precisely this purpose and it has teamed up with a startup called AppliedVR which has created a platform with interactive games and relaxing landscapes to draw users attention away from pain. The idea is to manage pain using the Gear VR headset while reducing dependence on pain medications.
Samsung and AppliedVR are working with a group of hospitals in the United States to validate the technology for children and adults. One such randomized controlled trial is underway at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to ascertain the clinical utility of virtual reality for inpatient pain management and its effect on length of stay, narcotic use and patient satisfaction. The study is recruiting up to 120 hospitalized adults currently.
“Clinical findings from Cedars-Sinai and AppliedVR have shown that VR results in a 25 percent reduction in pain, in many cases obviating the need for narcotics, and a 60 percent reduction in stress and anxiety,” said Dr. David Rhew, Samsung’s chief medical officer.
He also said that Samsung is exploring the possibility of running similar pilot programs with other healthcare organizations and hospitals. The company hopes that as it continues to validate the clinical utility of its VR technology it will see greater adoption of this technology and improved outcomes.