At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a woman enjoys relaxing sights and sounds through virtual reality by using meditation techniques like those used by a Buddhist monk, or in the contemplative practices of some Christian congregations to calm their minds.
“The part of the brain that is constantly babbling and talking to you, strategizes to block relaxation and meditation. So what virtual reality does is give people access to the ability to suppress that inner chattering voice,” said Dr. Brennan Spiegel at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Virtual reality medicine patient Tom Norris uses this technology to treat chronic pain.
“This technology empowers people to manage their pain independently, rather than relying on doctors and drugs,” he said.
Patients “visit” fantasy worlds that mirror what is happening in the real world because virtual reality headsets monitor breathing and eye movements. One thing that helps women give birth for example.
“We can show them a tree that they seem to be bringing to life, and as each breath brings the tree to life, the leaves on the tree begin to fall,” explains Dr. Brennan Spiegel.
Virtual reality applications allow users to take virtual trips.
“For example, flying in the sky, flying over waterfalls, exploring the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone Park, or whatever we want to give patients,” said Dr. Brennan Spiegel.
Such methods are proven to help patients deal with pain. In randomized trials in 2018 and 2019 that included 40 women who had given birth, statistically the pain of those using virtual reality during childbirth decreased significantly.
However, the American Food and Drug Administration or the FDA said more rigorous research was needed. [em/lt]
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