Virtual Reality


  • Virtual reality (VR) technologies are rapidly evolving, and are becoming more affordable. Can the VR technology become digital medicine for the treatment of depression, pain and other chronic illnesses? Can mobile VR work together with music streaming as a medical treatment?

  • Why would hospitals be interested in using the VR technology? Because: (1) it shows clinical benefits in pain management including less opioid use (e.g. Tashjian et al, JMIR Ment Health 2017; McSherry et al, J Burn Care Res 2017; Dascal et al, Innov Clin Neurosci 2017), and (2) may improve patient experience (no punt intended).

  • Why would hospitals and patients be interested in music (and multimedia) streaming? Because (1) perioperative music interventions help children with pain and anxiety (van der Heijden, PloS One 2015), (2) listening to music was shown to decrease the opioid use in intraoperative analgesia (e.g. Kliempt et al, Anaesthesia 1999; Lewis et al, Anesth Analg 2004), and (3) it is convenient to listen to your favorite beats while improving your immune system (e.g. Chanda, Levitin, Trends Cogn Sci 2013; Fancourt et al, Brain Behav Immun 2014). The recent paper by Chai et al “Music as an Adjunct to Opioid-based Analgesia” explains rationale for music as a digital analgesic.
  • Why would people and healthcare insurance companies be interested in using VR & music streaming together for prevention and treatment of depressive symptoms? Because: (1) VR technology helps to make depressed people feel better (Falconer et al, BJPsych Open 2016); and (2) listening to music alleviates depressive symptoms (e.g. Chan et al, Complement Ther Med 2011; Ramirez et al, Front Neurosci 2015), and (3) internet-based interventions can prevent major depression (Buntrock et al, JAMA 2016).
  • While music streaming is more convenient for long-term interventions in chronic disorders, the VR technology might also be helpful for acute indications. For example, can you imagine an immersive VR app that can offer instant relief from breakthrough pain, or breakthrough depressive symptoms.

  • Challenge #6: Can we create mobile VR technologies for the treatment of breakthrough pain, or depression, which are efficacious, safe and non-addictive?