The ability to immerse yourself in an interactive virtual world can be entertaining — just ask anyone who regularly plays video games and flight simulations. But, virtual reality can also be used as a tool to manage chronic back pain and the associated anxiety and depression. Here's what you need to know about at-home therapeutic virtual reality to help alleviate your chronic back pain and the accompanying anxiety and depression.
The Connection Between Chronic Back Pain, Anxiety & Depression
According to Harvard Health, chronic back pain may cause psychological distress which can worsen the pain. The psychological vulnerabilities that are part and parcel to having chronic back pain affects the chemistry of the brain and disrupts the brain functions involved in anxiety and emotional control. Worrying about chronic back pain increases anxiety and that, in turn, causes you to focus even more on the pain you're experiencing. Regularly having chronic back pain and anxiety can result in or exacerbate depression. Changing the perception of pain can reduce anxiety and depression, which can help you more easily manage back pain.
Using Immersive Therapeutic Virtual Reality to Rewire the Brain
While the use of prescription medication can alleviate chronic back pain, anxiety, and depression, there is an inherent risk of developing an addiction to pain relievers and psychotropic medications. Instead, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction treatment, meditation, and other psychological therapies can improve back pain, anxiety, and depression by essentially training or rewiring the brain to change the perception of pain. To assist in these modalities that rewire the brain, immersive therapeutic virtual reality has been found to be effective. Essentially, virtual reality is based on cognitive behavioral therapy.
Virtual reality can be audial, visual, or a combination. By delving into a virtual reality world, you can change the way your brain interprets the sensory signals and various perceptions your body experiences. This changes the way the brain reacts to bodily pain. Therapeutic virtual reality can be used at home. A therapist can prescribe an at-home therapeutic virtual reality device to you and provide you with detailed instructions on how to use the device and a treatment plan that you will do on your own in the comfort of your home.
You will need to make follow-up appointments with your therapist so he or she can assess how the at-home therapeutic virtual reality treatment plan is working for you and if any changes should be made to help you reduce your back pain and improve your anxiety and depression.
For more information, contact a company like AppliedVR.