Clinical Utility of Virtual Reality in Pain Management: A Comprehensive Research Review from 2009 to 2016

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Matsangidou, Maria ; Ang, Chee Siang ; Sakel, Mohamed (2017)

Virtual Reality is a technology that allows users to experience a computer-simulated reality with visual, auditory, tactile and olfactory interactions. In the past decades, there have been considerable interests in using Virtual Reality for clinical purposes, including pain management. This article provides a systematic review of research on Virtual Reality and pain management, with an aim to understand the feasibilities of current Virtual Reality technologies and content design approaches in real world clinical use. More specifically, this article focused on current consumer-facing Virtual Reality technologies. An exhaustive search identified 29 relevant studies from 2009 to 2016. Overall, studies indicate that Virtual Reality is an effective technology in clinical settings, which can ameliorate patients’ pain. However, overall results are inconclusive. Further research need to be conducted in order to articulate clearly under what circumstances Virtual Reality is an efficient tool and what attributes / characteristics of Virtual Reality are crucial on pain management.
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