Virtual Reality Based Passive and Active Distraction Methods for the Treatment of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is ongoing pain lasting for long periods after the initial injury or disease has healed. Chronic pain is difficult to treat and can affect the daily lives of patients. Distraction therapy is a proven way of relieving pain for patients by taking their attention away from the pain. Virtual reality is a platform for distraction therapy by immersing the user visually, aurally, and even somewhat physically in a virtual world detached from reality. There is little research done regarding the effects virtual reality's physical interactions have on pain management. This project aims to evaluate different types of virtual reality interactions for chronic pain patients to determine which is most effective for pain relief. The results found that physical and mental activities in virtual reality are equally effective as each other at reducing pain while the patients are engaged in the content, while the effects of observing relaxing content persists outside of virtual reality. These results inform the design of future virtual reality games targeted at pain management.