Studies show that video games can heighten the threshold for pain, and add treatment possibilities.
Video games, especially virtual reality, have been shown to assist in pain treatment, 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 the focus off of the pain and onto something else: 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 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 that they can more easily withstand the pain of the treatments. Ultimately, this leads to more efficiency for medical staff, since they are less rushed to re-bandage, resulting in 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%.
Children’s National Health System
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. The Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., is one of only a few programs in the country that specializes in managing pain for infants, children and teens.
Specialists at Children’s National Health System developed an immersive technological experience for children to help reduce their pain symptoms.
“The program changes the way medical professionals address pain medicine,” says Dr. Sarah Rebstock, clinical director and a leader in the initiative. “It’s often difficult to understand pain, particularly in children, due to its subjective nature. Usually, doctors only have measurements on a scale of one to ten to use as reference, and patients are released with improved conditions but still suffer from discomfort.”
The interactive video games that use Microsoft’s Kinect technology not only distract children from pain, they mimic the movements of physical therapy. This program has the potential to change how pain is treated in children and adults alike.