Study bolsters VR treatment for chronic pain

AppliedVR, a developer of virtual reality (VR) therapies, today announces positive results of a clinical trial evaluating self-administered VR therapy for chronic pain treatment. The randomised controlled trial (RCT) found that the use of VR in self-managed treatment at home was both feasible and effective.

The study, published in JMIR-FR, set out to determine the feasibility and efficacy of people using the AppliedVR program at home, and compared the VR treatment with the same treatment in an audio-only format. Taking data from 74 people suffering from  chronic lower-back or fibromyalgia pain over a 21-day period, the results showed that participants using the company’s EaseVR program significantly reduced five key pain indicators:

  • Pain intensity reduced 30 percent;
  • Pain-related activity interference reduced 37 percent;
  • Pain-related mood interference reduced 50 percent;
  • Pain-related sleep interference reduced 40 percent; and
  • Pain-related stress interference reduced 49 percent.

“People with chronic pain often have limited access to comprehensive pain care that includes skills-based behavioral medicine,” said Dr. Beth Darnall, AppliedVR’s chief science advisor, who co-authored the study. “We found high engagement and satisfaction, combined with clinically significant reductions in pain and low levels of adverse effects, support the feasibility and acceptability for at-home, skills-based VR for chronic pain.”

Josh Sackman, co-founder and president of AppliedVR, added: “Living with and managing chronic pain daily can be a debilitating and costly challenge, and many patients suffering from it can feel hopeless and desperate for any relief. So, as we engage in and accelerate more in-depth clinical research, we want them to know that we’re committed to making VR a reimbursable standard of care for pain.”

The company will conduct further RCTs later in 2020, investigating an eight-week treatment period. AppliedVR also is advancing two clinical trials with Geisinger and Cleveland Clinic to study VR as an opioid-sparing tool for acute and chronic pain, with grants of $2.9 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

AppliedVR was founded in 2015 by David Sackman, Josh Sackman, and Matthew Stoudt. The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. The company has made VR therapeutics available to more than 30,000 patients in over 200 hospitals.