FRIDAY, June 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) — A smartphone virtual reality (VR) game is effective in reducing pediatric patient self-reported pain during burn dressing changes, according to a study published online June 21 in JAMA Network Open.

Henry Xiang, M.D., Ph.D., from the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues randomly assigned 90 children aged 6 to 17 years who were seen in the outpatient clinic of a pediatric burn center (Dec. 30, 2016, to Jan. 23, 2019) to active VR participation in a VR game, passive VR participation in the same VR environment, or usual care.

The researchers found that participants in the active VR group had significantly lower reported overall pain and a lower worst pain score than participants in the standard-care control group. Compared with the passive VR group, the active VR group also had a lower worst pain score. Simulator sickness scores were similar for the active and passive VR groups. Nurses also reported that implementation of VR games was feasible, helpful, and easy to use.

“The smartphone-based VR game was very effective in reducing patient-reported pain,” Xiang said in a statement. “The future research direction is to evaluate whether smartphone-based VR games have an opioid-sparing effect.”

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