1. Pain management
There is good scientific evidence that virtual reality (VR) can help relieve pain. The parts of the brain that are linked to pain – the somatosensory cortex and the insula – are less active when a patient is immersed in virtual reality. In some instances, it can even help people tolerate medical procedures that are usually very painful.
Other studies have shown that amputees can benefit from VR therapy. Amputees often feel severe pain in their missing limb, which can be hard to treat with conventional methods, and often doesn’t respond well to strong painkillers like codeine and morphine. However, a technique called “virtual mirror therapy”, which involves putting on a VR headset and controlling a virtual version of the absent limb, seems to help some patients cope better with this “phantom pain”.
2. Physical therapy
VR can be used to track body movements, allowing patients to use the movements of their therapy exercises as interactions in a VR game. For example, they may need to lift an arm above their head in order to catch a virtual ball.
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