While surgery can be really scary for anyone, a new research study suggests that immersing yourself in Virtual Reality (VR) can significantly lower anxiety during the process.
Researchers from Michigan State University believe that VR can be used while the patient undergoing surgery keeps their eyes wide open. The study, published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, showed that those who were using VR during surgery were experiencing more pleasure.
The study's senior author and an assistant professor of surgery at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, James Clarkson, witnessed the "increase in joy" of the subjects who were immersed in VR.
"And for patients with an anxiety disorder, we saw decreased anxiety and their joy levels significantly increased."
The research team compared two groups who underwent carpal tunnel release surgery: those who received general anesthesia and those who were wide awake with local anesthesia with the opportunity to experience VR. They monitored over 400 patients from three different hospitals for nearly four years (August 2017 to March 2021).
The findings showed that those who received traditional surgery were twice as likely to feel either neutral or negative compared to those who immersed in VR. The first group also showed a clear reduction in joy and an increase in anxiety (42% versus 26%).
Even patients with an anxiety disorder saw a decrease in their anxiety and experienced heightened joy.
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