Video Games as Painkillers

Posted by | May 13, 2010


Us voces have certainly discovered that certain types of game playing can aid us with trying to get some much-needed rest while sick. Especially for dealing with certain types of pain – let’s say, for example, stomach cramps – the distraction has a particular placebo effect when it comes to setting pain aside.

Well, it looks like it may not actually simple placebo effect, new research seems to be showing actual analgesic effects!

When children and adults with acute and chronic pain become immersed in video game action, they receive some analgesic benefit, and pain researchers presenting at the American Pain Society’s annual scientific meeting reported that virtual reality is proving to be effective in reducing anxiety and acute pain caused by painful medical procedures and could be useful for treating chronic pain.

"Virtual reality produces a modulating effect that is endogenous, so the analgesic influence is not simply a result of distraction but may also impact how the brain responds to painful stimuli," said Jeffrey I. Gold, Ph.D., associate professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California and director of the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. "The focus is drawn to the game not the pain or the medical procedure, while the virtual reality experience engages visual and other senses."

The medical applications could prove to be extremely fun for those of us who enjoy a round of Fable, or Dragon Warrior to relax while healing.

Link, via mediLexicon.

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