Virtual Reality as a New Therapeutic Tool for Chronic Pain

2019-10-03 07:54:39 | BioPortfolio


Chronic pain is a major health problem and it has been estimate to account for approximately 40% of all medical visits, costing more than $600 billion annually in the United States alone. Given that pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for chronic pain are often difficult and may be associated with limiting side effects, technology-based interventions using virtual reality (VR) may be a promising alternative treatment option. Recent findings from cognitive neuroscience show that it is possible to manipulate the body schema and to induce a range of well-controlled illusory bodily experiences by exposing participants to conflicting multisensory bodily inputs using VR, that are associated with changes in pain perception and somatosensory processing in healthy subjects and chronic pain patients. In the current project the investigators plan to follow up on these findings in patients suffering from chronic pain affecting the whole body, e.g. fibromyalgia. The project is planned as a single center clinical study at the Department of Neurology and Psychosomatic Medicine, Inselspital Bern, in cooperation with the Pain Center Inselspital Bern, the Department of Biomedical Engineering; University Bern and the Department of Psychology, University of Bern. The investigators want to explore the analgesic effect of a specific multisensory illusion (e.g. the cardio-visual illusion) in patients suffering from chronic pain as compared to a control condition (single-blinded, randomized clinical trial) using psychometric and algometric methods. Moreover, the investigators would like to assess the physiological changes associated with pain reduction, study the reduction of psychological distress and improved well-being and assess the subjective acceptance of VR as a possible treatment option for patients with chronic pain. Importantly, the investigators plan to develop and test an easy to use, mobile VR setup as a long-term treatment option for patients with chronic pain. Given that chronic pain is a major health problem, the investigators believe that there is a huge market potential for an easy to use, noninvasive and effective treatment option and a possible technology transfer.

Study Design




Virtual reality heart, Virtual reality control, Standard therapy




Not yet recruiting


University Hospital Inselspital, Berne

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2019-10-03T07:54:39-0400

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