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Engaging In Virtual Reality Reduces Pain And Anxiety In Children, Suggests New Study

A recent study has suggested that engaging in virtual reality can reduce pain and anxiety in children undergoing painful medical procedures.

anxiety in children

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A recent study has suggested that engaging in virtual reality can reduce pain and anxiety in children undergoing painful medical procedures. The findings of the study showed that the inclusion of a virtual reality system decreased the pain and anxiety associated with intravenous catheter replacement or blood draw procedures. The findings of the study have been published in the journal 'JAMA Network Open'.

Virtual reality reduces pain among children 

The researchers suggest that although the game is simple, it requires focus and participation, according to the Children's Hospital Los Angeles press release. For the study, patients in one group used VR throughout the procedure, while those in another group received standard of care, which includes simple distraction techniques and the use of numbing cream. The patients who used VR reported significantly lower levels of pain and anxiety.

The study was conducted on children coming to the Children's Hospital Los Angeles who were experiencing some chronic condition. The researchers suggest that if a patient plays a virtual game while undergoing the procedure, he or she may relax during the procedure. They may experience less pain that further improves the overall experience for the child, the family, and the healthcare provider. For the study, the researchers included 107 patients aged 10 to 21 years undergoing peripheral intravenous catheter (PIVC) placement in two pediatric clinical environments. Patients and their caregivers completed a questionnaire via Qualtrics on tablet computers to assess patient pain and anxiety. 

Jeffrey I Gold, PhD, an investigator at The Saban Research Institute of Children's Los Angeles Hospital has been investigating the use of VR as a technique to help children undergoing painful medical procedures. The study has shown that virtual reality can prevent pain and anxiety in children undergoing intravenous (IV) catheter placement. For the study, patients, caregivers, and clinicians completed pre-PIVC and post-PIVC placement questionnaires measuring patient pain, anxiety, and anxiety sensitivity. The participants' complete data from before and after PIVC placement were included in the analysis. Dr Jeffrey I Gold in the press release informed that VR technology helped to reduce the pain among patients without the use of medication.

"Some patients don’t even realize that their blood is being drawn", Dr Gold said in the press release.

"We can actually reduce pain without the use of a medication", added Dr Gold.

(Image Credits: Unsplash)

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