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Virtual Reality Aims at Teaching Self-regulating Techniques to Reduce Fibromyalgia

Virtual Reality Aims at Teaching Self-regulating Techniques to Reduce Fibromyalgia
Virtual Reality treatment procedures have been in practice for decades now to cure severe pain, especially among children. Regardless of its importance, it has been a relatively understudied subject in comparison to chronic studies. With the invention of the newest distraction therapy, FDA has granted advanced nomination for the EaseVRx, a VR therapy developed by Applied VR, a Los Angeles-based startup organization. The reason is Applied VR’s target to reduce intense pain and decrease stress, mood, and sleep interference in human beings.

Chronic pain has been a considerable human health issue. And virtual reality treatment has typically worked in distracting patients, reducing the intensity of pain. Beth Darnall, the lead researcher for Applied VR technology and the director of Stanford University School of Medicine’s pain relief innovation lab, explained the reason behind the development of this fresh approach. In his interview with PPM, he described how skillfully this technology will train a human brain with a range of self-aid techniques and teach how distraction can have a positive impact on pain reduction procedures. Dr. Darnall also added that this innovative headset is designed to be a training management program. A frequent therapy done through this headset will eventually enable people to acquire techniques to be able to self-regulate the pain outside the VR headset. People can either choose to take an at-home therapy (comprising tools to enable patients to self-regulate their minds and reduce pain) or wish to do so from a potential clinician (advanced tools to treat acute pain that might even reduce the requirement of opioids).


FDA awarded the virtual device to prove its fruitfulness. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the breakthrough virtual reality headset, the Applied VR startup conducted a pilot study. The study included 97 adults (sixty-seven percent male) between the age group of 18 and 75 with severe low back pain or fibromyalgia. It was a twenty-one-day program comprising eight sessions, where each session lasted for fifteen minutes.

Virtual Reality Aims at Teaching Self-regulating Techniques to Reduce Fibromyalgia
Virtual Reality Aims at Teaching Self-regulating Techniques to Reduce Fibromyalgia


They assigned the VR headset test to one of the two unblinded groups. Participants of the VR group received a headset with pre-installed experimental software techniques. The other group received audio recordings that they could download or stream online in their mobile devices. Both groups received the same therapy that included cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation techniques, mindfulness, and educational studies on how to self-regulate emotions and thoughts. The only difference was in the presentation format, which showed VR therapy had greater analgesic advantages.

Post results, the VR group was extremely satisfied with ‘their’ type of therapy. The experience was good in both groups. However, the impact was greater in the VR group. The VR group patients reported the following things:

  • Reduction in pain intensity by thirty percent
  • A decrease in pain interfering measures by thirty-seven percent
  • Reduction in sleep interference by forty percent
  • A decrease in stress interference by forty-nine percent
  • Reduction in mood interference by fifty percent


The efficacy of the pilot study has provoked researchers to expand their work on other types of pain as well. Dr. Darnall and his group are actively looking forward to launching several studies in different pain conditions in the upcoming years.

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