High-tech distractions

August 2004 issue of Scientific American describes how pain of severe burns may be eased by the ultimate in high-tech distractions, virtual reality game.

Clinical studies are showing how effective virtual reality is at fighting burn pain. In an article in Scientific American, Hoffman described how they used a special virtual reality helmet that would work in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to confirm this. The team studied five regions of the brain that are known to be associated with pain processing. “We found that all five regions showed significant reductions, and the amount of reductions during VR, the amount of reductions in pain-related brain activity, ranged from 50 percent to 97 percent,” says Hoffman. “The incoming pain signal is not even being processed during VR. There’s much less pain being processed by the brain when the person’s in VR.”


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Related

Engadget is pointing us to the news that TV may also be something of a painkiller for kids. Basically, the researchers drew blood from a bunch of kids in various situations — and discovered that those who were watching TV found it less painful. Of course, this may not be all that surprising.

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