The Miller-Dwan Foundation purchased its first set of virtual reality (VR) goggles more than three years ago. Then, we thought of it as an amazing and exciting new-fangled request. Today, they’ve become, quite simply, part of our standard of excellence in patient care –– the same care that is provided by some of the biggest and very best hospitals in the country. Their success in addressing pain has been especially remarkable.
By now we all know pain in our country is a big problem. Too many people taking too many drugs, the opioid crisis, etc. Medical facilities and clinicians are struggling to find new ways to help people reduce pain and eliminate drug addiction. VR can help.
VR, according to Dr. Brennan Spiegel, director of Cedars-Sinai’s Health Service Research, is a “mind-body treatment that is based in real science.” It not only distracts the mind from pain, he says, it actually helps block pain signals from reaching the brain.
The ticket to this pain-blocking experience is a pair of VR goggles. VR goggles allow the wearer to view a series of computer-generated images that they can, amazingly, interact with. If you’re a Star Trek fan, think holodeck. With the goggles, you see yourself in and a part of the environment created by your goggles. Cedars Sinai has been studying the goggles’ ability to combat pain for hospitalized patient. The results have been stunning.
The study tested 120 adults who were admitted to Cedars Sinai for everything from joint problems and gastrointestinal disease to cancer. Half of the patients were given VR goggles with a variety of relaxing and meditative experiences to choose from. They were advised to use the headsets three times a day for 10 minutes per session—and as needed for breakthrough pain—over three days. The other half of the patients were instructed to tune their in-room TVs to the health and wellness channel, which included guided-relaxation content such as yoga and meditation. They also were asked to view the channel three times a day for 10 minutes per session and as needed for breakthrough pain. Several times a day, nurses asked all the patients in the study to rate their pain using the standard zero to 10 scale. Bottom line, the virtual reality googles worked significantly better. So much so, that some patients now use them at home.
The Miller-Dwan Foundation gas purchased VR goggles for physical rehabilitation care, burn patients and others experiencing pain. You can contribute to state-of-the-art technology by giving to the Miller-Dwan Foundation Innovations Fund. The Innovations Fund, our most agile fund, allows us to stay abreast of the changing pace of healthcare providing you, your family members, friends and loved ones with the very best healthcare has to offer.