Video Games May Play an Important Role in Pain Treatment


Studies show that video games can heighten the threshold for pain and add treatment possibilities.

For many chronic pain sufferers, trauma victims, and burn patients, there may now be an excuse to splurge for that top-of-the-line video game system.

Video games, especially virtual reality, have been shown to assist in the treatment of pain and may even aid in raising pain tolerance altogether.

For burn and trauma patients, daily wound care can be excruciating. The process of resetting breaks, enduring surgeries, or scrubbing wounds can be painful and exhausting. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as doctors have discovered a way to take focus off the pain and onto other things, video games.

By playing interactive video games during a painful procedure, patients are distracted from the pain. So far, they have had mass appeal. Whether a patient is going through short-term treatment or is stuck in the hospital during a lengthy stay, interactive entertainment just might be what the doctor ordered.

Virtual Reality Video Games For Burn Victims

For many burn victims, treatment with the use of virtual reality games has actually been around for a few years. By offering SnowWorld, a simple virtual reality game that allows its users to throw snowballs at enemies, doctors can clean and dress burns and perform grafts with a lower pain response from their patients. The results have been great thus far. Patients become so immersed in the virtual reality world, they can more easily withstand the pain of the treatments. Ultimately, this leads to more efficiency for the doctors, since they are less rushed to re-bandage, which leads to a quicker healing process for the patient and an overall experience that is just a little more pleasant.

Many scientists have been testing these theories, to provide concrete evidence that video games work in such settings. So far, the results have been positive. The use of video games can effectively reduce pain dramatically, particularly violent video games (adults only please) which have been shown to raise pain tolerance by as much as 50%.

Get Well Gamers Organization

There are many organizations dedicated to helping children in pain. Some donate money to rebuild pediatric units at hospitals, others donate time to visit these children, but there is one organization that is providing video games to hospitals.

Get Well Gamers is an organization that collects, refurbishes, and distributes video games and consoles to hospitals throughout the world, 175 hospitals thus far and growing. Ryan Sharpe, founder of the organization, was in and out of the hospital often as a child. He battled a variety of ailments, causing him to spend much time in the hospital. When he discovered a video game in the break room, he found an effective way to cope with being hospitalized. Years later, while in college, he became determined to ensure that other children had access to video games in hospitals, as well.

Sharpe contends that video games help with mental acuity, allowing children to continue to learn and thrive even while in a hospital setting. They remain social with other children by playing multi-player or online games and can also increase their physical wellness by playing games like Wii Sports. He notes that even children in other areas of the world, who speak other languages and live in a different social environment, can fairly easily understand the concepts of video games and learn to play them without much difficulty. Regardless of their nationality or culture, virtually any child can learn how to swing a bat in a video baseball game.

Not only are video games a potential learning and social tool for these children, but they also provide necessary distraction from the pain. Long hospital stays can be boring and full of unpleasant pricks and a tedious number of tests. Get Well Gamers strives to make a child’s experience in the hospital a bit more bearable, if not even a little bit fun.  And a happy child makes for a happy patient.  All in all, Sharpe is helping provide a way for these little bodies to forget they are in pain.

To learn more about Get Well Gamers, to donate money or consoles, suggest hospitals that need help, or to contact the organization directly, visit their website at


Source: Get Well Gamers, Gamespot
Photo credit: HITlab