Immersive virtual reality for reducing experimental ischemic pain

Short Title:
Immersive virtual reality for reducing experimental ischemic pain
Model System:
Reference Type:
Journal Article
Accession No.:
International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Year, Volume, Issue, Page(s):
2003, vol. 15, issue 3, pp 469-486
Publication Website:
This study explored the novel use of immersive virtual environments as a nonpharmacologic pain control technique and whether it works for both men and women. Fourteen female and 8 male students underwent pain induced via a blood pressure cuff ischemia lasting 10 min or less. Pain ratings increased significantly every 2 min during the no distraction phase (0 to 8 min) and dropped dramatically during the last 2 min period when participants were in the virtual environment (a 59% drop for women and a 41% drop for men). Five visual analog pain scores for each treatment condition served as the primary dependent variables. All 22 participants reported a drop in pain in the virtual environment, and the magnitude of pain reduction from the virtual environment was large (a 52% drop) and statistically significant. This is the first study to show immersive virtual environment distraction is also effective for women. The results show that virtual environments can function as a strong nonpharmacologic pain reduction technique, showing the same pattern of results obtained from recent clinical studies using virtual environments with burn patients during physical therapy. Practical applications of virtual environment pain reduction, and the value of a multidisciplinary approach to studying pain are discussed.
Hoffman, H.G.; Garcia-Palacios, A.; Kapa, V.; Beecher, J.; Sharar, S.R.
Author Address(es):
Hunter G. Hoffman, Box 352142, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
Participating Centers:

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