• Join Today!

Become a member and connect with:

  • An Active Online Community
  • Articles and Advice on SCD
  • Help Understanding Clinical Trials
scientific articles

Virtual reality as complementary pain therapy in hospitalized patients with sickle cell disease

key information

source: Pediatric blood & cancer

year: 2019

authors: Agrawal AK, Robertson S, Litwin L, Tringale E, Treadwell M, Hoppe C, Marsh A


Due to incomplete management of vaso-occlusive pain episodes (VOE) in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD), we sought to determine if immersive VR would be feasible for inpatients. Secondarily, we hypothesized that a single VR session would improve the VOE pain experience.

Consecutive patients with SCD eight years and older admitted for VOE were offered one 15-minute VR session, utilizing a relaxing underwater world specifically created for pediatric patients and to minimize potential simulator side effects. Safety and acceptability were evaluated with a brief survey before and after the session. Pain was evaluated utilizing the validated adolescent pediatric pain tool (APPT). Survey data and pain scores were analyzed using Wilcoxon signed-rank test as the data were nonnormally distributed.

Thirty patients, 21 female, with a median age of 16 years were enrolled, the majority having hemoglobin SS disease. The VR session had no reported side effects; all patients requested VR again in the future. Median pain intensity (pre-VR 7.3 [interquartile range, IQR, 6.1, 8.8], post-VR 5.8 [4.7, 7.9]), number of affected body areas (pre-VR 3.0 [2.0, 7.8], post-VR 2.0 [0, 4.8]), and qualitative measures including sensory, affective, evaluative, and temporal pain domains were all statistically reduced (i.e., P =<0.01).

VR therapy was feasible in a cohort of patients with SCD admitted for VOE. In addition to standard therapies, VR may help reduce the pain experience with SCD VOE. Further study is required to determine the impact of VR therapy on opioid usage and length of stay in hospital.

organization: UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, USA; KindVR, USA; Tel Aviv University Sackler School of Medicine, Israel

DOI: 10.1002/pbc.27525

read more full text source