What if you could escape the pain? Virtual reality headsets allow wounded patients to do just that.
It turns out that the futuristic-looking goggles originally designed for gaming may actually be powerful players in healing and treatment. By transporting patients into an alternate reality, VR technology distracts them from the pain, easing the sense of anxiety, panic and trauma often involved during wound treatment.
Here’s a look at how using virtual reality in medicine has such a positive impact in wound care:
Entering a calm environment
Even as the injury begins to heal, wound care procedures, such as cleanings and dressing changes, can be painful and uncomfortable experiences for patients. When patients focus on the affected area, it only feels worse. As such, health care professionals will often tell patients to visualize a calm environment as they perform the procedure. With VR intervention, patients no longer have to imagine it, making it easy for them to fully focus their attention on the world within the headset rather than the pain.
Seeing success in hospitals
Doctors at Rockyview General Hospital in Alberta, Canada recently found success in using virtual reality to help patients undergoing wound care. When patients put the headsets on, they are transported to an environment of their choice, such as a lakeside campground, prehistoric landscape with dinosaurs or tranquil ocean. Jaclyn Frank, wound care physiotherapist at the hospital, reported immediate positive effects for patients.
“Their whole body relaxes, their breathing slows down and you can tell they’ve been transported somewhere else and they’re not in the wounds room,” she explained.
When testing this VR intervention at Rockyview, patients reported a 75 percent reduction in discomfort, plus a 31 percent improvement in overall experience.
The wound care team also noted that they take fewer breaks during procedures where patients wore the VR headsets, when compared to the pauses they typically grant when patients are in too much pain.
Improving senior wound care experiences
Medical professionals who focus on aged care have seen similar results when utilizing VR intervention. In addition to reporting reductions in anxiety and pain, nurses at Bolton Clarke, an aged care provider, found that patients moved less while they performed dressing changes, making the process much more efficient and easy for everyone involved.
With such positive results, there’s a chance these VR headsets will become a common wound treatment tool in the future. Check out our educational resources to keep up with advancements like this in wound care.