Virtual reality leads to 'significantly lower pain' for people with spinal cord injury

A HammondCare led research project into the ability of virtual reality to reduce pain for people with spinal cord injury has been published in the prestigious journal, Nature.

VR SCI pain 580Featuring earlier on the cover of HammondCare’s 2019 research report, the virtual reality project offers new hope for the high number of people with spinal cord injury who experience persistent neuropathic pain.

The paper published in Nature, by lead-author Dr Phil Austin and including co-author Prof Phil Siddall, both from the Department of Pain Management at HammondCare’s Greenwich Hospital, shows that participants in the research study reported “significantly lower pain intensity” after using 3D head-mounted virtual reality.

HammondCare’s Research Report 2019, says of the study results:

“Evidence shows that virtual reality is an innovative alternative for people living with persistent pain. The effectiveness of existing treatments for the relief of neuropathic pain in people following a spinal cord injury leaves plenty of room for improvement.

VR SCI pain 02 580“The aim of the project was to examine whether a commercially available 3D head-mounted virtual reality application and software could result in a significant short-term reduction in neuropathic pain in people with spinal cord injury.

“Early results are very promising and show significant reductions in pain experienced by participants during both 3D head-mounted and 2D computer screen virtual reality sessions.

“Most importantly, participants using 3D Virtual Reality reported an average decrease in neuropathic pain intensity of over 65% compared to a 35% decrease by those using the 2D Virtual Reality.”

For more information about the research, see page six of HammondCare's 2019 Research Report.

See also a summary of the Nature journal paper.