“Virtual” Escape, Real-World Healing

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Dr. Brennan Spiegel refers to hospital rooms as "bio-psycho-social jail cells." Anyone who's ever seen a family member hospitalized, would completely agree. But Dr. Spiegel, who is Cedars-Sinai's Director of Health Services Research, is exploring ways to use virtual reality, to change that hospital experience. Currently, he and his team are researching the ways VR could alleviate hospital patients' stress and anxiety. Their findings have some startling implications about our minds and healing. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is one of the first hospitals to study the use of VR by hospital inpatients. Dr. Spiegel's team equips selected patients with a headset, then "transports" them to a more pleasant environment with a short virtual-reality video. Patients can "travel" to Iceland, an art studio or underwater. (Here's a link to Cedars-Sinai's video on the project.) Patients using virtual reality have had some pretty exciting results in pain reduction, according to findings Dr. Spiegel recently published online. Dr. Spiegel talked about implementing virtual-reality research at Cedars-Sinai, some of his experiences with introducing the system to patients, and the new, larger study Cedars-Sinai will be starting in the near future. On this edition of Over Coffee® you'll hear: How Dr. Spiegel first became aware of the possibilities of virtual reality in a hospital setting; His experiences with introducing the system to patients on the first day of the experiment; The reasons some patients may not be eligible for a VR study; Positive reactions and responses from some patients who have used therapeutic virtual reality; His plans for a larger upcoming trial among Cedars-Sinai patients; The projected date for results from the larger study; Some of the best experiences Dr. Spiegel has had during the initial study of therapeutic virtual reality; What a patient may experience while wearing the virtual-reality headset; How the brain is functioning during the patient's use of virtual reality; Dr. Spiegel's vision for the future, with medical use of virtual or mixed reality. (This post is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please contact a healthcare professional if you have medical questions.)

146 episodes available. A new episode about every 7 days averaging 19 mins duration .