AppliedVR is a Los Angeles-based startup which has a very specific set of goals in mind for their business. Together with their partners Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Stanford, they are looking into clinical applications of VR. More specifically, the company is looking into drug-free alternative treatments for pain relief. This is specifically for procedures like blood work, epidurals and chemotherapy.
AppliedVR and applied VR
The science behind AppliedVR’s work appears to be around distracting the patient from the pain. According to a study reported by Technology Review, just 20 minutes in a calm VR game decreases acute pain. The decrease in the pain felt was similar to using narcotics, and is potentially far cheaper. All that is needed is a calm VR game, without an in-game death of fail-state. The example given in Technology Review is a simple game called Bear Blast. This game revolves around tossing balls to cartoon bears by moving the head.
Brennan Spiegel, director of health services research at Cedars-Sinai is cautiously optimistic about the potential benefits of VR. However, a clinical trial of AppliedVR’s tech still needs to be conducted to get official results. Furthermore, Spiegel says honestly that this treatment might not work well for everyone. “We have to be careful about not overselling virtual reality, or any other digital technology,” he says in Technology Review.
Exact pricing of AppliedVR’s product is not available, but it will definitely be more than what consumers currently pay for Samsung’s Gear VR. However, the CEO of AppliedVR does say that his product will be significantly cheaper than the current VR headsets. The tech is still in a nascent stage so consumers are unlikely to get their hands on VR medical treatment anytime soon. The implications for healthcare are enormous however, should the clinical trials be successful.