Samsung's latest VR endeavor is using it to manage pain for hospital patients. When it comes to virtual reality technology, much of the industry is focused on utilizing it for entertainment purposes. Samsung, though, is diligently working to enhance people's quality of life through the use of VR. By partnering with a company called AppliedVR, Samsung is testing the use of virtual reality interaction to help patients focus on something other than their pain. The methods are an attempt to help reduce the dependency on opioid prescriptions which, while effective, pose the risk of addiction which is a whole other issue beyond the pain that resulted in the prescription being handed out.
To do this, Samsung's Gear VR headset is being used to give patients an outlet for accessing AppliedVR's content, which includes both games and relaxing landscapes that are meant to help soothe the patient. The games are interactive so patients would need to focus on what they're doing which could help them take their minds off the pain instead of simply dulling it with the use of drugs. Samsung and AppliedVR are already reportedly working with a number of hospitals to test the use of VR and legitimize its use as an alternative method for helping patients handle pain.
The tests are said to be aimed at adults as well as children, with one child at Buena Vista Ambulatory Surgery Center having used the Gear VR and AppliedVR's interactive platform to entertain him before a surgery to remove a tumor from his hand. The use of virtual reality technology was reportedly able to also cause drowsiness in the patient before the procedure began which prevented the hospital from having to use drugs to do the same thing. AppliedVR's platform was also used in another hospital called Cedars-Sinai to help improve the mood of a woman who was suffering from abdominal pain but only after not having very much luck with pain medication that had already been prescribed. This showcases potential for the use of VR technology in this particular area, but clinical validation of the technology being used in this way is still a goal that will need to be achieved if Samsung and AppliedVR both hope to have this technology be used for pain management on a much wider scale. Samsung states that they're working with other hospitals to work towards this goal in hopes that it becomes more widely adopted. While certainly unconventional, the use of VR to manage pain is just one of a few different ways that Samsung is utilizing the technology, as back in November Samsung partnered with educational programs in Germany to help students learn. Samsung will also be partnering with Austria's motor vehicle association to use VR for driving lessons.