"Virtually" Painless. How Virtual Reality Is Used To Help Needle Phobias

Trypanophobia, or fear of needles is more common than you think in adults and children. In today's technologically advanced society, doctors have been able to come up with a way for children to overcome the anxiety and pain of the dreaded shots using virtual reality.

The idea sparked when, Chad Rudnick, an affiliate professor at Florida Atlantic University's Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, and pediatrician, had an appointment with an 8-year-old patient who showed up with a VR headset expecting the worst of injections. Rudnick noticed that when the child was wearing the VR headset, he didn't even flinch when he was given the vaccine. 

While virtual reality has been used in various ways in healthcare such as, treating PTSD and anxiety, it has not had studies for this particular use. 

Rudnick, then conducted a study involving 3D VR headsets and a smartphone app with patients between the ages of 6 to 17 years old. The headset gave them the choice of  riding on a VR roller-coaster, hot-air balloon, or helicopter. Once the child was fully engaged in the virtual reality experience, Rudnick administered the vaccine. 

Following the study, results found that pain and fear were reduced in 94.1% in the participants. 

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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