CONNECTED HEALTH CONFERENCE • Boston, MA • October 25-27, 2017
Amanda Greene, @LALupusLady
The late actor James Daly said, “You can’t suppress creativity, you can’t suppress innovation.” He was right -- innovation happens! Little did I know that exploring the Exhibition Hall during the Personal Connected Health Alliance’s Connected Health Conference last year would change the way I use technology to help relieve my pain. My life (or - should I say - my quality of life?) was transformed forever when I put on a virtual reality (VR) headset for the very first time. As a woman who lives in chronic pain, I was exhausted--my ankles were swollen and achy, my arms were loaded with vendor information. All I wanted to do was get back to my hotel room to rest when I saw the Samsung Booth - they had a table where I put down my tote bag for a minute so I could take a brief break. Before I knew it, I had a headset on and was (virtually) flying in a helicopter over a river and trees and then my severe pain was gone. I was hooked.
VR applications in healthcare are a collaboration of creativity and innovation. Since the Connected Health Conference last year, I have been utilizing VR whenever I can. While I have yet to use VR in a hospital setting, the results have been astounding. Depending on my pain level, I will choose to view a scene from nature; it is enjoyable to plunge in and swim with manatees (without getting wet) or soar with a flock of birds over the Pacific Coast or - if the mood is right - I will watch a Lady Gaga performance. There is an abundance of VR content online; while not all of it is therapeutic, I believe that wellness and healthcare developers will soon realize the benefits and create VR content that targets specific patients’ needs. When I put on a VR headset, it doesn’t take long to feel relief; after 20 minutes my body seems to forget about the pain and that lasts even after the headset is removed. Each patient is unique and will have different results as individuals discover if Virtual Reality can work as a treatment for them.
VR may not be appropriate for all patients; those with seizure conditions are not well-suited for this new technology. Still, the growing use of VR is a brilliant innovation, adding a new way to assist in the care of most patients. Few treatment options today have fewer side effects than putting on a headset and immersing yourself into “another world” – one that literally helps patients (like me) escape from the sharp pain and aches that our bodies are used to.
As a patient who uses VR to help me cope with chronic pain, I was happy to discover that even after a “slip and fall” where I had severe acute pain in my knees that augmenting the physical therapy prescribed but my physician with VR helped tremendously. The VR treatment made me feel less frustration about my physical limitations and though I was unable to travel for most of this summer, I enjoyed a virtual European journey during my rehabilitation.
I am excited to be sharing the stage with Dr. Brennan Spiegel at this year’s Connected Health Conference on October 26th in Boston for the “Virtual Reality in Health and Wellness Applications” panel. If you can’t wait for the panel, I hope you can join us on September 26th for a #Connect2Health Twitter Chat at 11 AM CST.