In 2014, the number of deaths linked to prescription painkillers reached 19,000, the highest number on record, leading the CDC to recommend that doctors dramatically reduce the number of prescriptions they write for painkillers, and try exercise, physical therapy and over-the-counter treatments before resorting to painkillers.
Or they could play a video game.
The Royal Society Open Science has published a study indicating that people suffering from pain can be distracted by a virtual reality video game. During the study, 27 participants submerged a hand in freezing cold water while they played a video game that combined visuals and music. They reported reduced pain while playing the game. Adding sound to the visual experience helped with pain reduction.
The combination of physical experience and a psychological response is already in use in cognitive behavioral therapy, and the researchers hope to promote the inclusion of sound in future treatments. “Virtual reality technology may serve as an effective non-pharmacological analgesic to aid pain management,” the research team says in their report. “This study clearly demonstrates the additional benefit of including sound within such systems in addition to the stimulation provided through the video display.”
“We need to be careful not to draw too many conclusions from a relatively small, lab-based study on healthy individuals,” said Edmund Keogh, of the University of Bath’s Department of Psychology. “After all, the level of pain experienced was relatively mild, controllable and less
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