Category: Technology (e.g. robotics, assistive technology, mHealth); Cross-Cutting
Does immersive virtual reality (VR) intervention decrease pain in older adults?
Pretest–posttest design, post open-ended survey questionnaire.
Senior day center.
Participants (or Animals, Specimens, Cadavers) :
Inclusion criteria: Self-reported pain which interfers in daily functioning (self-reported) senior center attendence (serving ages 55 and over) at least 2 days per week, and intact vision. Exclusion criteria: History of vertigo, seizures, epilepsy, and/or Mini-Cog score less than 4. Twelve total participants completed the study.
A total of 12 VR sessions (15-45 min) over 6 weeks utilizing the HTC Vive™ from a seated position. The HTC Vive™ consists of head-mounted display and two hand controllers.
Main Outcome Measure(s) :
The Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS), Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS®) Item Bank v. 1.0–Emotional Distress–Depression, and the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale Brief Version (WHOQOL-BREF), pre and post intervention. The NPRS scores on Pre-session 1 and Post-session 12 were used as the pretest–posttest measurement outcomes of pain. The post intervention questionnaire included items probing the participant's experience.
The Wilcoxon signed-rank test revealed that posttest pain was significantly lower than pretest pain with a large effect size (p = .002, d = –1.54, confidence interval = [–2.50, –0.58]). The results of the PROMIS® and all four domains of the WHOQOL-BREF did not indicate significant changes. There were no severe adverse effects and no dropouts. Content analysis of the survey questions revealed that 100% of participants reported overall positive experiences that the VR positively affected their experiences of their pain levels.
The intervention may be effective in improving pain (p < .05) for community-dwelling older adults with no effect on depression and QOL. Future studies should further examine the withstanding length of pain aleviation after VR sessions, comparatively to a control group of standard of care modalities for pain.