I just finished reading a story in Engadget, a tech site, that St. Joseph Hospital in France, uses virtual reality as a way to get Emergency Room patients to tolerate pain without taking addictive painkillers.
St. Joseph students designed a VR program that helps patients relax and tolerate severe pain. Patients simply put on VR goggles and immerse themselves into games and programs. The students truly believe patients can be distracted and won’t ask for pain-free medication.
Dr. Olivier Ganasia, the doctor in charge of the ER, said, “using VR during treatment is like hypnosis.” The French believe this is a way to reduce the opioids crises.
There is no question that everyone wants a drug-free society, but can we really depend on VR?
I asked my doctor friend (gastroenterologist in Georgetown) his opinion and this is what he said, ” If I am in horrible pain from an accident or kidney stones, etc., please give me a narcotic and keep the goggles off my head.
“It may prove to be a wonderful treatment for pain, but please do the studies on someone else. I am not particularly worried about opioid overdose or addiction from pain meds given once in the ER. For chronic pain, maybe it will be the way to go in the future.”
The future of VR is still unknown.