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Repeated use of immersive virtual reality therapy to control pain during wound dressing changes in pediatric and adult burn patients

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Albertus W. Faber, MSc,1David R. Patterson, Ph.D., ABPP, ABPH,2 and Marco Bremer, MSc3



The current study explored whether immersive virtual reality continues to reduce pain (via distraction) during more than one wound care session per patient. Patients: Thirty six patients aged 8 to 57 years (mean age of 27.7 years), with an average of 8.4% total body surface area burned (range .25 to 25.5 TBSA) received bandage changes, and wound cleaning.


Each patient received one baseline wound cleaning/debridement session with no-VR (control condition) followed by one or more (up to seven) subsequent wound care sessions during VR. After each wound care session (one session per day), worst pain intensity was measured using a Visual Analogue Thermometer (VAT), the dependent variable. Using a within subjects design, worst pain intensity VAT during wound care with no-VR (baseline, Day 0) was compared to pain during wound care while using immersive virtual reality (up to seven days of wound care during VR).


Compared to pain during no-VR Baseline (Day 0), pain ratings during wound debridement were statistically lower when patients were in virtual reality on Days 1, 2 and 3, and although not significant beyond day 3, the pattern of results from Days 4, 5, and 6 are consistent with the notion that VR continues to reduce pain when used repeatedly.


Results from the present study suggest that VR continues to be effective when used for three (or possibly more) treatments during severe burn wound debridement.

Resource: J Burn Care Res. 2013 Sep-Oct; 34(5): 563–568.