Study Finds Patients Wearing VR Headsets Need Less Anaesthetic

Immersive virtual reality (VR) headsets may reduce the amount of anesthetic that patients need during a procedure, a study has found.

Scientists at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts, United States examined 34 patients undergoing hand surgery.

They divided the patients into two groups, giving one group a headset to immerse them in relaxing programs while the others went unassisted.

The chill programs included 360-degree views of beautiful outdoor areas such as mountaintops, forests, or even a meditation area.

During the elective operation, the patients were able to request a sedative at any time during the procedure, and the group wearing VR goggles requested a lower dosage than the control group who did not use VR.

Doctor with VR Goggles

According to Engadget, while the non-VR-wearing patients required 750. 6 milligrams per hour of the sedative propofol, the patients who were enjoying a VR app only required 125. 3 milligrams. The VR patients were able to recover from anesthesia faster than others.

Scientists believe that VR distracted the patients from the pain emanating from their hand and hope that it will lead to reducing cases of over-sedation which can produce nasty side effects.

” With the aging population and increased time spent at the keyboard, there will be an increase in elective hand surgery needs.” Dr. Brian P. (anesthesiologist) says. O’Gara.

“Optimizing care for these patients will undoubtedly involve modification to anesthetic practices. The purported advantage of virtual reality in managing patients suffering from anxiety or pain is that it provides an immersive experience which can distract the mind and prevents them from thinking about the painful side effects of surgery

. Is there a drug-free solution to this problem?

This isn’t the first time that VR has been used as an alternative to general anesthesia. Students at St Joseph’s Hospital, France created an immersive experience that helps patients to relax and increases their tolerance for pain.

“It enables us to offer patients a technique to distract their attention and curb their pain and anxiety when being treated in the emergency room…I think in 10 years, virtual reality won’t even be a question anymore, and will be used in hospitals routinely,” Dr. Olivier Ganasia told Engadget.


Image credits:Photos licensed via Depositphotos.

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