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Your location: Home > Related Articles > Research: Real time VR system can significantly improve the efficacy of chronic pain therapy

Research: Real time VR system can significantly improve the efficacy of chronic pain therapy

Author:QINSUN Released in:2024-03 Click:27

This study uses VR technology as an adjunctive therapy for spinal cord stimulation (SCS), a chronic pain treatment method that uses surgical implants to deploy electrical pulses to interrupt pain signals sent to the brain. Fifteen subjects who received SCS treatment for chronic leg pain were recruited to participate in this study.

This experimental method uses VR technology to present virtual images of the patient's body. The idea behind it is that patients can see the effect of SCS in real time, and their leg parts will emit light when the current is turned on.

Previous studies have shown that this visualized VR experience has analgesic effects, so new research hypothesizes that this method can enhance the efficacy of SCS. Normally, SCS is only effective for 60% to 70% of patients, but even so, it can only reduce pain by about 50%.

The study tested three different intervention measures: congruent SCS-VR (VR visualization synchronized with the patient's painful area in the leg), inconsistent SCS-VR (the part of the patient's leg where VR lighting is completely different from the SCS target), and pure VR (without SCS current, only VR visualization).

When SCS is combined with uncoordinated VR vision, the patient's subjective pain score decreases by 23%, but when VR vision is used in sync with electrical stimulation, the pain is reduced by nearly double, reaching 44%. When using VR visualization without SCS, there is almost no change in pain scores.

The research team wrote in the research paper, "We also demonstrated that pain relief persisted even after consistent cessation of SCS-VR, indicating sustained efficacy and emphasizing its therapeutic potential. The intensity, selectivity, ease of use, continuously increasing course of treatment, and long-term pain relief of this effect will help to extend and more frequently apply treatment doses in non SCS-VR studies, which may further enhance the described efficacy."

We need to further investigate how this consistent embodied virtual reality experience enhances the effectiveness of SCS. However, the difference in VR visual effects between consistency and inconsistency indicates that the results are not just simple dispersion. On the contrary, researchers hypothesize that synchronization between visual and tactile senses may enhance the way SCS masks our pain sensations.

It is understood that this study used the term "digital" to refer to the addition of digital tools to clinically validated medical treatments. Digital therapy, also known as digital therapy, is currently regulated by the Digital Health Center of Excellence recently launched by the FDA in the United States.

The researchers concluded in a newly published research report, "By combining new VR technologies with new insights in body perception neuroscience and SCS neural regulation, our personalized new SCS-VR platform highlights the impact of immersive digital drug therapy on chronic pain."