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Virtual Reality can reduce phantom pain felt by paralysed people

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Paralysed Human
Virtual Reality can reduce phantom pain felt by paralysed people
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London, Oct 31’2017: Scientists have shown that virtual reality (VR) can help reduce phantom body pain in paraplegics and and create the illusion that they can feel their paralysed legs being touched again.

“We managed to provoke an illusion: the illusion that the subject’s legs were being lightly tapped, when in fact the subject was actually being tapped on the back, above the spinal cord lesion,” said lead author of the study Olaf Blanke from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

“When we did this, the subjects also reported that their pain had diminished,” Blanke added.

The results published in the journal Neurology could one day translate into therapies to reduce chronic pain in paraplegics.

Paraplegia is often accompanied by neuropathic pain due to the spinal cord lesion.

The patient feels pain originating from the legs, even though nothing else can be felt below the lesion.

The sensation of pain is real and yet completely resistant to drug therapy.

The new research shows that virtual reality may be the key to providing relief for this type of pain, and the solution comes from restoring a sense of touch.

“We tapped the back of the subject near the shoulders and the subject experienced the illusion that the tapping originated from the paralysed legs,” said Polona Pozeg, co-author of the study and now a neuroscientist at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) in Switzerland.

“This is because the subject also received visual stimuli of dummy legs being tapped, viewed through the virtual reality headset, so the subject saw them immersively as his or her own legs,” Pozeg added.(IANS)

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Virtual Reality Tech Transforming Heart Treatments

However, bulky equipment and low-quality virtual images hindered these developments

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Virtual Reality Tech Transforming Heart Treatments
Virtual Reality Tech Transforming Heart Treatments. Pixabay

Virtual Reality (VR)-powered head-mounted wearable devices are leading to new developments in cardiovascular treatment and improved outcomes for patients, researchers report.

The VR technology is helping in cardiac care, includes education and training, pre-procedural planning, visualisation during a procedure and rehabilitation in post-stroke patients.

“For years, VR technology promised the ability for physicians to move beyond 2-D screens in order to understand organ anatomy noninvasively,” said Jennifer NA Silva, Assistant Professor at the Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis.

However, bulky equipment and low-quality virtual images hindered these developments.

“Led by the mobile device industry, recent hardware and software developments-such as head mounted displays and advances in display systems-have enabled new classes of 3-D platforms that are transforming clinical cardiology,” Silva added in a paper appearing in the journal JACC: Basic to Translational Science.

VR
Representational image. Pixabay

VR provides complete control over the wearer’s visual and auditory experience as they interact within a completely synthetic environment, while Augmented Reality (AR) allows the wearer to see their native environment while placing 2-D or 3-D images within it.

Merged reality and Mixed Reality (MR) allow for interaction with digital objects while preserving a sense of presence within the true physical environment.

“These technologies make up the full spectrum of extended reality, which is transforming the practice of cardiovascular medicine,” the researchers noted.

Also Read: Virtual Reality can reduce phantom pain felt by paralysed people

The technology allows patients and family members to better understand their cardiac conditions, helping them to make more informed decisions surrounding their medical care.

Medical students and trainees can better visualise cardiac abnormalities with VR, which allows trainees to simulate operating environments and multiple physicians to interact while viewing the same educational material in a natural environment.

However, the authors said there were still challenges and limitations.

“These technologies are still constrained due to cost, size, weight and power to achieve the highest visual quality, mobility, processing speed and interactivity,” Silva said. (IANS)