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J Clin Psychol. 2004 Feb;60(2):189-95.

Water-friendly virtual reality pain control during wound care.

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  • 1Human Interface Technology Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


Recent research suggests that entering an immersive virtual environment can serve as a powerful nonpharmacologic analgesic for severe burn pain. The present case study describes an attempt to use water-friendly virtual reality (VR) technology with a burn patient undergoing wound care in a hydrotherapy tub. The patient was a 40-year-old male with 19% total body surface area deep flame/flash burns to his legs, neck, back, and buttocks. The virtual reality treatment decreased the patient's sensory and affective pain ratings and decreased the amount of time spent thinking about his pain during wound care. We believe that VR analgesia works by drawing attention away from the wound care, leaving less attention available to process incoming pain signals. The water-friendly VR helmet dramatically increases the number of patients with severe burns that could potentially be treated with VR (see

Copyright 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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