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A virtual approach to health and wellbeing

A virtual approach to health and wellbeing

Thursday 21 November 2019

A virtual approach to health and wellbeing

Health and Social Care's pain management team have started looking at using Virtual Reality technology alongside its existing available treatments.

The team works with individuals, who have been in pain for many months and years. Some patients with persistent pain find it difficult to function properly because of their pain.

The thinking behind using virtual reality headsets to try and treat this links to a circumstance where people experience pain because the brain and nervous system have become hard wired to report pain, even in the absence of physical damage.

The focus of Pain Management Team is to empower the patient to self-manage and rehabilitate so that pain because less intrusive in their daily lives.

To get the project off the ground, Sarah Ticho, the founder of Hatsumivr (hatsumivr.com) is visiting Guernsey this week to work with staff to help look at the role of VR in health. 

She met with physiotherapist Mike Linnett and others in the team to explores two areas:

  • What is the analgesic effect of VR in terms of medication reduction
  • How do we translate VR into better normal function

One of the tools she had helped develop on the VR headsets was a programme which allowed patients to draw their pain on a body: "It helps them to distinguish between types of pain - this is burning pain, and this is stabbing pain, for example - that then helps the doctors understand what thy are dealing with," she said.

There was also the more blatant use of the immersion of the VR technology helping to dampen pain because of the immediate distractions. 

Mr Linnett added: "Working with Sarah, and drawing on my own experience of using VR for pain management in the UK, will help us to establish the potential of the emerging technology.

"While this project is in the very early stages, I am hopeful that this visit will be the first of many and might lead to opportunities to use Guernsey for research and development in this exciting area of development." 

Pictured top: Christina Allen trying on one of the Oculus headsets and Sarah Ticho showing her the software. 

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