Normally when you have hand surgery you need 750.6 milligrams per hour of the sedative propofol. What the boffins found that if you gave the patent some nice relaxing content to view on a VR machine they only required 125.3 milligrams and recovered earlier, leaving the post-anesthesia unit after 63 minutes on average versus 75 minutes.
This is similar to the claims made by dentists who hypnotisted their patients.
The scientists claim VR distracted the patients from the pain that would otherwise command their full attention. However, the researchers also admitted that the headset wearers may have gone into the operating room expecting VR to help, potentially skewing the results.
Beth Israel Deaconess' team is planning trials that could rule out this placebo effect. One follow-up trial will also gauge the effect of VR on patients receiving hip and knee surgery. Past experiments, such as at St. Jospeph's Hospital in France, have indicated that the technology can help assuage patients.
What a provider spends on VR headsets could pay for itself if it allows for more patients and higher-quality treatment.