Despite having the technology we do today, scientists are still unable to answer some of the biggest questions they face. The placebo effect is just one example. Nevertheless, new studies and research might help us understand how our brain perceives the universe around it. And in the core of the new research, lies Virtual Reality and the VR Placebo Effect.

The VR Placebo Effect – Real or Not?

The placebo effect is the belief of a person that is taking certain medication that they think can help them without truly taking it, but seeing the same results as if they actually were. On the basis of the placebo effect is the limit to which a person actually believes in the effects of the drug and whether they have taken it or not. Delivering an immersive experience, virtual reality can help patients overcome certain fears and can help them cope with stress. However, the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is trying to see whether the VR Placebo Effect could help patients overcome pain. The study itself will aim to compare the use of an actual VR to a non-VR sham intervention. The outcome will be measured according to numerous criteria, including the pain intensity ratings, amounts of morphine equivalents needed and more.

The Rise of VR Medical Intervetion

If the results of the study are positive, virtual reality might become more integrated within the medical scene. Of course, this is not the first study done in the same category. Recently, Cedars-Sinai also published research on the clinical utility of a virtual reality intervention in the Inpatient setting. The results of the study were overwhelmingly positive with most patients receiving pain and stress relief from the VR experience. However, an interesting note is the fact that the patients actually noted discomfort in wearing the Samsung Galaxy VR.

The Psychological Boost From VR

While we are a long way away from a VR Placebo experience that will help us better relieve pain, the current effects noted from the use of virtual reality show that immersive VR experiences can make a huge difference. Taking your mind to another world, while waiting in the hospital, can have a huge effect on your perception of the procedure you are about to have. Being less stressed will not only reduce the pain you are experiencing, because of the placebo effect, but it will also help you more easily cope with the procedure itself.

With the growing number of clinical trials at Cedars-Sinai in relation to the use of Virtual Reality in different ways, we are hopeful that the technology will be able to greatly impact the medical industry for the better. With this in mind, next time you are waiting for your doctor, you might be doing so in a virtual world.