Can Virtual Reality Treat Chronic Pain?

It's estimated that about 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain*. Often having chronic pain can mean difficulty sleeping, inability to preform normal tasks, changes in appetite, increase in anxiety or irritability and depression.

If you're one of the 100 million Americans dealing with chronic pain, there may be a new treatment available for you soon. Currently chronic pain can be managed with the help of physicians, physical therapists and mental health professionals, but soon virtual reality may also play a part in the process.

In Scientific American Mind's June 2015 edition they explore virtual reality as a treatment for chronic pain.

Here's the summary
24 participants who suffer from chronic neck pain to sit in a chair while wearing virtual-reality glasses and turn their head. The displays were manipulated to make the participants think that they were turning their head more or less than they actually were.
Subjects could swivel their head 6 percent more than usual if the virtual reality made them think they were turning less, and they could rotate 7 percent less than usual when they thought they were turning more.
:The findings suggest that virtual-reality therapy has the potential to retrain the brain to understand that once painful movements are now safe, extinguishing the association with danger. 

* According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine
image: Scientific American Mind June 2015

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