Build a VR app for Pain Management

August 30, 2016 | Raj Srivastav

The US is currently in the throes of an opioid-addiction epidemic. All across the nation, millions of adults are battling this awful addiction. The mortality rate of white men rose sharply – for the first time in modern history in a modern developed nation.

The worst part of this is that it generally starts with someone being in exceptional, chronic pain and a doctor trying to help manage said pain. Unfortunately, the pain relief opioids provide does not last for as long as it was originally thought; this led to accidental abuse of opioids and, eventually to addiction.

While we are now aware of this issue, pulling or controlling the prescriptions with more rigor has led people to turn to street opiates; and, for the first time in decades, we’re seeing the rise of heroin addicts.

But what if all of this can be avoided? What if it’s not necessary to even prescribe opioids at all? It seems like the solution has arrived: Virtual reality apps.

In the last few months, we’ve seen the rise of VR and AR apps for all sorts of things, but one of the coolest things we’ve seen is the rise of VR apps that actually help people manage chronic pain, without the use of drugs.

More importantly, clinical trials and extensive research on the first of these initiatives show that they work, and work well. Recent research shows that the use of such apps can dramatically and effectively reduce chronic pain. In other words, this isn’t just some okey get rich scheme – the concept has been tried and tested by medical professionals. And they’re saying it works.

Notably, this is different than just a year or so ago. Once VR tech took millions just to build the lab. Now a VR app can be built for a few thousand. In 2014, nearly 20 studies showed that the pain relief was not long term. In 2015, many hospitals were extremely leery of VR-based pain relief tech.

Today, Apps like DeepStream’s Cool! are being used in some of the biggest hospitals in the US. This is the future of Pain Management folks. Virtual Reality provides a whole array of tools to help people fight back against ongoing pain, from injuries of all sorts. With DayDream to be released in the next couple of weeks, now is the time to launch your own VR app for healthcare.

We’ve known for a long time that pain is heavily influenced by a person’s state of mind. If a person is in chronic pain, it becomes a way of life. It raises stress, which in turn creates more pain. In fact, there are decades of research is what is known as psychosomatic pain, or psychological pain (like PTSD) that manifests physically.

It’s also known that the human brain can actually cure many ailments, diseases, and manage pain. One such phenomenon is known as the Placebo Effect: a patient is given medicine to help manage pain or an affliction; what they don’t know is that the meds they are given are sugar pills (not medication at all). All the same, there is generally a percentage of test subjects who report a decrease in pain.

Ready to build your own VR app? The money is there: by 2025, Goldman-Sachs predicts that the VR app industry will generate $95 billion annually, and $5 billion of that will be generated by apps for healthcare. Contact SDI today to build your own app in 6 weeks or less.

For those who need some inspiration, let’s take a look at some of the coolest VR apps and technologies for Pain Management.

FirstHand: SnowWorld

This amazing app transports the user to a world of snow: penguins, mammoths, snowballs – the whole 9 yards. Meanwhile, doctors are treating the wound or wounds of the user: cleaning, bandaging, etc. The case study? A victim with nearly 20% of his body covered in burns.

For a burn victim, treating and cleaning wounds is an excruciating process. So painful that it frequently causes psychological damage. Unfortunately, it is absolutely essential. Burn wounds are easily infected and can kill a victim if left untreated for any length of time.

SnowWorld’s virtual world of Ice transports patients to an entirely immersive world, including a very large field of view (at least 60 degrees) to fully immerse the patient. Additionally music is played:

SnowWorld puts Pixar-like animation to medical use in a virtual video game that relieves the pain of burn victims. Try it. It is completely absorbing to pelt woolly mammoths and penguins with snowballs while your ears are filled with the irresistible strains of (Paul Simon’s) Graceland.” – The New York Times

Not only are patients reporting less pain, but an FMRI provides concrete proof that the brain is feeling less pain while in SnowWorld. Basically, this app emphasizes “mindfulness” and “relaxation” to convince a patient’s brain that they are not experiencing pain.

DeepStream VR: COOL!

Cool!, based on the DeepStream VR platform is similar to SnowWorld, but more of a game. Users are capable of controlling how immersive the experience is, the experience is ongoing, allowing a patient to stay in as long as needed, and (like SnowWorld) uses biometrics to help patients to enhance the “mindfulness” techniques.

And it seems to be exceptionally effective. Here are the numbers, taken from DeepStream’s own website:

♦ 48 hours of effective pain relief; for comparison, opioids are generally effective (by label) for 12 hours and more likely actually effective only for 8 hours;

♦ About 70% of users reported less pain while in the VR world;

♦ And about half reported a decrease in pain right after they finished the treatment.

While the website also stated that with the newest version of Cool! patients had no issues with nausea or headaches, a common problem associated with VR apps and worlds. This is frequently caused by “Retinal Binocular Disparity” (RBD). RBD is basically what happens when each eyes perceiving a single image, but in an uneven or unequal way i.e. poorer vision in one eye.

It’s caused by all sorts of things, and isn’t solely relegated to the world of VR; it can happen just by having a significantly better vision in one eye than the other. Fortunately, as a VR app development company, our team knows how to mitigate RBD to make the VR experience more enjoyable (and less vomit-inducing).

Build Your Own HealthCare App for VR

Want to make it rich with your own virtual reality app for Daydream, Android, or iOS? Give us a call at 408.805.0495 / 408.621.8481 for all your virtual reality app development needs. You can also click to contact us!

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