The use of virtual reality for pain control;henceforth, referred to as VR analgesia, has been shown to be effective in clinical treatment of acute pain in wound care, cancer care, physical therapy and routine hospital procedures. VR is believed to be effective based on gate theory of cognitive load, supported by findings that correlate levels of immersion and presence in VR to analgesic effects. A major obstacle to the wider testing and proliferation of the potential benefits of VR analgesia is due to the excessive cost and technical limitations of immersive display hardware, specifically head-mounted displays (HMDs). Firsthand has developed an arm mounted high resolution 3D display, the Firsthand ID, which delivers a high quality image and immersive experience at significant cost savings compared to the current standard of care using HMDs. This project proposes a feasibility study to refine and test the performance and usability characteristics of the Firsthand ID (Aim 1), and to compare the analgesic effect of the Firsthand ID to the current standard of care HMD systems in a laboratory thermal pain test (Aim 2). Contingent on success of this Phase I feasibility study, we plan to propose a multi----site clinical study of the Firsthand ID for acute pain. This research will potentially contribute significantly to all areas of pain control research and practice by demonstrating efficacy of a vastly more economical, practical and potentially superior display technology for VR pain control.
Virtual Reality has been proven in numerous experiments to be an effective tool for reducing pain without drugs or, as a supplemental measure, in extreme cases where drugs are not enough. Validation drugs are not enough. Validation of a simple, low-cost, higher-quality alternative to the complex and expensive Virtual Reality systems currently used for pain control research and practice would greatly benefit the public health.