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Patients with burn injuries experiencing less pain with VR

According to recent research, adult burn injury patients had reduced discomfort during dressing changes thanks to a VR intervention.

According to a new study published in PLOS Digital Health, virtual reality (VR) innovations are excellent at taking the attention of burn damage patients away from pain.

In the United States, burn centres typically depend on drugs like opioids for pain treatment. In light of the escalating opioid problem, researchers are exploring non-pharmaceutical pain treatment options.

The goal of this research was to see how effective virtual reality (VR) was in reducing discomfort related to burn injury dressing changes. Researchers conducted a three-group randomised clinical investigation to investigate the practicality and efficacy of a smartphone-based VR pain alleviation treatment (VR-PAT) in reducing burn damage patients’ self-reported pain.

Between May 2019 and February 2020, researchers gathered adult burn victims from a burn centre approved by the American Burn Association. Active VR, passive VR, or standard of care were the three therapy groups to which they were randomly allocated.

The study’s active VR group engaged in a set of four VR games, while the passive VR group toured the same virtual worlds but was not exposed to any of the games’ interactive features, and the standard care group received everyday distractions like music.

The ages of the participants in the research varied from 18 to 70, and they all had burn injuries that had happened no more than four days earlier. They were also receiving hospitalisation for the very first time for acute burn wounds, required numerous dressing changes, and needed to take opioids for dressing changes.

Thirty-three patients were eligible for the trial, and fourteen of them opted to participate. Six of the 14 were put in the control group, while four of the 14 were split into passive AR and four into active VR.

The study found that after three changes of clothes, participants in the active VR group claimed the least amount of discomfort, but those in the passive VR group reported most of it. The control group had the smallest mean self-reported worst level of pain during the second dressing change, compared to the active VR team, which also experienced the smallest average self-reported pain at the first and final modifications to the dressings.

The control group took longer than the active and passive groups to complete the first two clothing changes. The passive group, on the other hand, used the most opioids for those dressing changes, while the control group used the least.

Although patient recruitment was interrupted owing to COVID-19, which resulted in a smaller sample size for this trial, the researchers determined that patients in the active VR group seemed to have less pain than those in the passive VR and control groups.

Researchers are also looking at how VR technology may be used in other scenarios involving healthcare.

For example, in August, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) revealed that they had adapted commercial VR gear to detect brain activity and better comprehend how people respond to stress and other external variables.

The researchers developed and integrated a non-invasive electroencephalogram (EEG) sensor into a Meta VR headset. The EEG measures the user’s brain activity during VR interactions. The technology may be used to track and treat mental stress and anxiety.

The Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) created a special Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Level II code for a virtual reality programme in March as a consequence of the expanding usage of VR in healthcare.

According to the press release, the latest HCPCS Level II classification classifies AppliedVR’s RelieVRx programme as durable medical equipment, or DME, with it becoming the first digital treatment to be categorised under an established benefit category.

By establishing the code, a clearer route is opened for the solution to ensure Medicare eligibility.

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