Virtual Therapy for Burn Victims

Very cool (literally and figuratively).

SnowWorld is virtual world therapy for burn victims.  From the University of Washington HITLab:

SnowWorld, developed at the University of Washington HITLab in collaboration with Harborview Burn Center, was the first immersive virtual world designed for reducing pain.  SnowWorld was specifically designed to help burn patients. Patients often report re-living their original burn experience during wound care, SnowWorld was designed to help put out the fire.

Our logic for why VR will reduce pain is as follows. Pain perception has a strong psychological component. The same incoming pain signal can be interpreted as painful or not, depending on what the patient is thinking. Pain requires conscious attention. The essence of VR is the illusion users have of going inside the computer-generated environment. Being drawn into another world drains a lot of attentional resources, leaving less attention available to process pain signals. Conscious attention is like a spotlight. Usually it is focused on the pain and woundcare. We are luring that spotlight into the virtual world. Rather than having pain as the focus of their attention, for many patients in VR, the wound care becomes more of an annoyance, distracting them from their primary goal of exploring the virtual world.


Via PSFK via Herd.

One thought on “Virtual Therapy for Burn Victims

  1. This is very cool. I wonder why more organizations haven’t thought to implement something like this… particularly in peds where pain management is a big deal. I know at Akron Children’s, we had a team that specialized pain managament but I doubt they delved into anything like this. Presumably, it’s expensive? Did you do any research in regards to how much something like this costs for a hospital/health system? I’m not much of a techie so I have no idea.



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