Virtual reality helps with pain

Life & Health

Virtual reality technology is helping people with chronic pain break the opioid cycle.

Mia Hrabec is doing amazingly well just four months out of spine surgery.

She says, “I had what is called a meningioma which is a benign tumor on my spinal cord.”

She underwent a five-hour surgery to remove the tumor. But Mia was determined not to rely on opioids for pain.

She adds, “Pain medication was a concern for me because I have seen the effects on family members and loved ones.”

Jeff Hathaway with Breakthrough Physical Therapy says, “It became the quick fix, give someone a pill, and then they’ll be able to do more.”

He says we were taught the body tells the brain how to perceive pain when the opposite is true.

Hathaway adds, “The brain decides whether the signal it’s getting is important and whether you should feel pain or not.”

He says the key is giving patients the tools to desensitize their central nervous system and lower their sensitivity to pain.

He’s using virtual reality technology combined with physical therapy to help patients manage pain without pills.

Patients are asked to rate their pain level and concentrate on mindful meditation. Mia did the VR sessions pre and post-surgery. She only took three of the oxycodones she was prescribed.

Hathaway says, “This is a game-changer. We can see a complete elimination or at least a reduction.”

Hrabec says, “You can manage your pain without pain medication.”

Mia is feeling stronger every day and says if she can do it anyone can.

Breakthrough Therapy tracked post-surgical patients in the program for one year and found that the cost of care was reduced by 45 percent which meant fewer pain medications and fewer ER visits.

Right now, insurance covers the VR sessions as part of a physical therapy program.

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