Can virtual reality help patients manage pain?

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By KYW Newsradio 1060

KYW Newsradio’s Medical Reports are sponsored by Independence Blue Cross. 

​​​​By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — If you talk to many women who have delivered babies about pain, they will often compare future pain to the pain that childbirth caused. 

Certainly there are forms of anesthesia like epidurals that can help with the pain, but these also have an impact on the efficiency and speed of labor, so researchers are now looking at a very interesting approach to try to minimize the pain. 

Women delivering babies at the University Hospital of Wales are being given virtual reality headsets to see if they can help manage the pain. According to the researchers, the virtual reality tool is most effective in the early stages of labor when women are more in control. 

At this point, the tool is being used for its impact on breathing and relaxation, and clearly more work needs to be done. 

This is just the latest study which has looked at the role of virtual reality in healthcare, moving it from the gaming industry to helping with the patient experience.