In the technology-driven world, virtual reality is beginning to play a significant role in some unexpected industries. One of these is the healthcare world. If you’ve been reading Richard Magazine these past few weeks, you’ve probably seen this development coming. In the past few months, virtual reality has been passionately working its way into the fashion world through VR 360˚ dressing rooms and e-retail shows, real estate with VR-powered home tours, and even assisted living communities with VR programs to help treat Alzheimer’s. Now, the tech-savvy tool is attracting attention from clinics that treat patients with severe, debilitating pain. According to these pain consultants, virtual universes could help solve one of the world’s leading medication issues. That’s right. VR treatments have the potential to finally put a halt on opioid addiction.
PILLS AND MORE PILLS
Chronic pain is no joke. When you’re facing painful ailments like arthritis, fibromyalgia, or intense migraines, any treatment that takes away the harsh reality is a welcome change. That’s why so many people end up addicted to painkillers. It’s a vicious cycle. If you don’t take enough medication, you’ll end up reeling in pain. When you do, they can easily become such a part of your routine you forget to be careful. More pills mean less pain, right? This troubling issue is most prevalent in the USA. Since the 1990s, opioid prescriptions in the States have tripled. Today, 80% of the world’s supply is going to roughly 5% of its population. Those are freaky numbers. Clearly, if VR treatments can help treat pain without resorting to disturbing amounts of medication, it would be an incredibly welcome change.
NEW VR TREATMENTS
Any VR tool is going operate much like the dressing rooms you see popping up on dozens of e-retail websites. Using photo-realistic renders and the latest in virtual technology, these tools simulate a useful shopping experience where consumers can view anything from nail polish to runway clothing in immersive 3D and 360˚. The VR treatments designed to help manage chronic pain use these same elements with a different focus. Rather than trying to manufacture an informative experience, pain-relieving VR treatments act as a distraction method to divert patients’ attention away from their pain. These technologies work because when we’re immersed in a realistic VR environment, computer-generated space can actually trick our senses into feeling physically present. Freaky though it sounds, this means VR treatments have a real shot improving the quality of life for people in pain.
REPLACING THE PROBLEM
It’s going to take a little time for pain-relieving VR treatments to balance out opioids as a solution for chronic pain, but the technology is moving along quite quickly for now. Its first incarnation was as a flight simulation software. During intense wound-care sessions, patients would be given VR goggles that transported them into a virtual ice canyon. In this peaceful environment, they’d get to exchange snowballs with penguins and snowmen and forget the difficult treatment they were undergoing. As virtual reality graphics improve, these immersive escapes grow more realistic and diverse. Today, you can fly with snowy penguins or swim with glowing fishes. Each new program comes with its own set of impressive perks, but the big achievement here is that professionals have finally found a new way to alleviate pain without prescribing dozens of pills. We’re finally on the way to pain relief free of excessive opioids!
It’s exciting to see technologies like virtual reality reaching beyond the fashion beauty world into powerful, life-changing industries. The fact that VR treatments can give pain relief as well as help you online shop just goes to show how expansive this new technology really is. Get ready. Virtual reality really might be about to take over the world.
— Nathan Young