Many people struggle with pain, especially after medical procedures such as surgery. But the opioid abuse epidemic has made doctors and patients cautious about pain killers. The VA has developed other solutions.
Opioid abuse continues to be a major healthcare challenge, both in the U.S. and around the world. As a result, doctors and patients alike are hesitant about relying on a pill to manage pain. But pain remains a problem, especially after surgical procedures. The Veterans Health Administration has been studying the use of alternative pain management approaches, with considerable success. In a recent study, doctors gave patients virtual reality goggles after surgery, and used distraction-based immersion therapy as a way to manage the pain. The veterans were able to interact in a 3D digital environment, and this helped alleviate anxiety, stress, and boredom which in turn affect perceived pain levels. 96% of the patients in the study enjoyed the experience, and 84% of them said that it reduced the discomfort. Almost all of them would recommend the therapy to their peers. The VHA is now exploring other uses for VR in healthcare, such as evaluating fall risk and managing chronic pain.