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Virtual Reality Helps Reduce Pain Among Patients With Sickle Cell Disease

Immersive virtual reality appeared effective as a complementary therapy to manage vasoocclusive pain among patients with sickle cell disease.

“In addition to standard therapies, virtual reality may help reduce the pain experience with sickle cell disease vasoocclusive pain episodes,” Anne Marsh, MD, director of the Pediatric Sickle Cell Clinic and associate hematologist/oncologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, and colleagues wrote. “Further study is required to determine the impact of virtual reality therapy on opioid usage and length of stay in hospital.”

Marsh and colleagues sought to determine whether immersive virtual reality could be a feasible treatment approach for a cohort of 30 patients (median age, 16 years; 21 female) with sickle cell disease hospitalized for vasoocclusive pain episodes.

Results showed pain intensity dropped significantly after a single virtual reality session. Investigators observed improvement in sensory, affective, evaluative and temporal pain domains (P .01 for all).



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