Charles George VA Medical Center - Asheville, NC
VR Pain Management
By By: Caitlin Rawlins
Friday, November 16, 2018As part of CGVAMC’s new, and largely successful, Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Protocol (ERAS) initiated in November 2017, the workgroup began considering other modalities to help alleviate post-operative pain/improve quality of patient experience. In December 2017, Caitlin Rawlins, registered nurse on CGVAMC’s surgical ward, began working with Dr. Christopher Nagy, chief of orthopedic surgery, and Wellovate LLC, to bring virtual reality (VR) therapy to the hospital’s surgical patients with the program WayaVR. This is being utilized initially as a pilot program specifically with post-operative patients with plans to grow the therapy program in the future.
VR is a three-dimensional, computer generated environment with which an individual interacts in a seemingly real or physical way. This technology is part of the future of healthcare and will play a significant role in research and care delivery while providing an avenue for alternative and adjunct therapies. CGVAMC is the first of the VHA medical centers to utilize VR for post-operative patients as a distraction therapy with the intention of decreasing discomfort, anxiety and stress while improving quality of overall patient experience.
In July 2018, the first veteran trialed this innovative therapy at CGVAMC, two days after he’d undergone a total knee arthroplasty.
Throughout the experience the veteran exclaimed how realistic the graphics are, stating “it’s like high-quality photographs, very realistic.”
After the standard 30-minute session, the veteran completed a short survey embedded in the program, which allows for data collection during the pilot study. After this inaugural session, the patient told staff and doctors present that he “barely felt any pain” in his post-operative knee during the experience and found the therapy very capable of distracting from discomfort and stress.
Another veteran to use VR stated, “I didn’t think about my pain as much and, as a result, needed less [pain] meds or at least less frequently.” Thus far, 100% of participants agree or strongly agree that VR reduced their stress and discomfort, was a positive distraction, and would recommend the therapy to fellow veterans.