Medical VR info

It’s still a new and experimental approach, but proponents of virtual reality say that it can be an effective treatment for everything from intense pain to Alzheimer’s disease to arachnophobia to depression. And as Facebook Inc., Sony Corp., HTC Corp. and others race to build a dominant VR set, the price of hardware has fallen, making the equipment a more affordable option for hospitals looking for alternatives for pain relief. The idea is that the worst pain can be alleviated by manipulating the way the human mind works: the more you focus on pain, the worse it feels. Swamp the brain with an overload of sensory inputs—such as with the immersion in a virtual world—and its capacity to process pain, to be conscious of it, goes down.

A patient tries out a VR headset for the first time

Photographer: David Nicholson/Bloomberg

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