This is an extremely promising study that has just been carried out by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. By providing virtual reality (VR) headsets to patients in the operating room, they managed to reduce the amount of anesthetic used.
In detail, 34 people who were to undergo non-emergency hand surgery took part in the experiment. They were divided into two groups of 17. The first was equipped with a VR headset which offered immersive relaxation programs including trips to the forest or to the top of a mountain, while the other participants were operated normally.
Very encouraging results for VR
The observation is clear, since the group that had a VR headset asked for much less propofol, a sedative product. They thus received 125.3 milligrams per hour, while the other participants requested 750.6 milligrams on average. Similarly, those who benefited from virtual reality left the recovery unit much earlier than the others: 63 minutes after against 75.
To explain this result, the scientists believe that the distraction afforded by VR resulted in these lower levels of anesthesia. However, they believe that further studies are needed. Either way, this could be great news because reducing the amount of anesthetics a patient receives reduces the risk of complications while lowering the cost of the operation.
Note that if VR can have very positive medical effects, it does not always have good press. We recently told you about this study conducted by researchers at the University of Bonn who found that prolonged use of virtual reality on certain video games can lead to depersonalization disorders. It is a psychological symptom that leads to a feeling of loss of control of the situation, characterized by a loss of sense of self.