Bolton Clarke is testing the acceptability of Virtual Reality (VR) intervention to help reduce discomfort for clients during wound management procedures.
Patients are immersed in a simulated environment using a head-mounted display and head tracking system that allows them to engage and feel immersed in a simulated environment.
Melbourne client Peter, who has received At Home Support from Bolton Clarke for the past eight years, experiences anxiety and restlessness during his daily 45-minute wound care visit, and needs to take pain medication in advance to help him deal with the discomfort.
This month he had his first experience using a Virtual Reality headset during his treatment. He chose a computer-generated dolphin experience that allowed him to feel he was swimming underwater with dolphins while his wound dressings were being changed.
To maximise the effect, the VR headset was used just before the most uncomfortable parts of the procedure.
“I can still feel it, but I can’t see the nurses doing the dressing, and that helps,” Peter said.
“When I had dressings done at the hospital they said to visualise something nice, but now I can actually see something nice.”
Originally developed by the gaming industry, VR intervention has emerged in the clinical area as an effective non-pharmacological intervention to distract patients from distressing sensations.
Research shows levels of reported pain are associated with the level of attention given to the pain stimulus, so the introduction of a competing stimulus interferes with pain receptors and results in lower reported pain levels.
The immersive nature of VR can contribute to a decrease in negative emotions and affect sense of balance and spatial orientation.
Bolton Clarke nurse Rajwind Kaur said using the VR intervention meant Peter moved less during wound dressing, which made the process quicker and easier.
Clients using VR also report procedures seem to take a shorter time to complete, even if they actually take the same amount of time.