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Can the virtual reality Snow World video game give pain relief by distraction?

by | 5th, February 2012

CAN video games reduce pain? Pain sufferers in the US military are testing out a video game called SnowWorld to see if it can reduce pain by distracting them:

[A]fter Hoffman became director of the Virtual Reality Analgesia Research Center at the University of Washington Human Interface Technology Laboratory, or HITLab, he had some remarkable success. ..

If distraction was the key, why not just use over-the-counter video games for a fraction of the cost? To answer that question, Hoffman had run a control experiment. In his first case study, he had a teenager with a severe flash burn play Nintendo Mario Kart while having five staples removed from a skin graft. The data showed that in terms of reducing pain, anxiety about pain, and time spent thinking about pain, playing Nintendo Mario Kart compared poorly to SpiderWorld. The reason VR was so much more effective than a regular video game came down to a quality called “presence”—that sense of being immersed inside an artificial world.

Or would you just prefer marijuana? Anything that reduces pain can only be good…



Posted: 5th, February 2012 | In: Technology Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink