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Virtual Reality Hypnosis is Improving Surgery Recovery

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Virtual reality hypnosis is being explored as an option to treat postoperative pain and anxiety in children at UT Southwestern.

A pilot study based in Europe analyzed 21 young patients and found that the hypnosis reduced anxiety, opioid consumption and vomiting in children after scoliosis surgery. The patients experienced 20 minutes of virtual reality hypnosis within three days of surgery, donning virtual reality goggles and experiencing beaches, underwater swims, hiking in the mountains, with soothing words and music which induced hypnosis.

UT Southwestern reported the following results via release.

  • “Only 20 percent required pain medication (IV morphine), compared with 62.5 percent in the control group.
  • 5 percent of the VRH group required anti-anxiety medication, compared with 100 percent in the control group.
  • VRH group members were able to sit up and/or walk more quickly after surgery (23 hours compared with 33 hours in the control group).
  • The VRH group experienced less vomiting (40 percent vs. 83.3 percent in the control group).
  • The average hospital length of stay was 125.5 hours for VRH group members compared with 137.7 hours in the control group.”

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to assess the postoperative use of virtual reality hypnosis in children,” says Dr. Girish P. Joshi, Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Management and one of the study’s investigators via release. “Our goal is not only to decrease pain but also to decrease opioid use. Morphine is associated with a sedating effect that may prevent patients from eating and walking sooner, so the significant reduction in morphine means they can have a quicker recovery. It’s also been well-documented that reducing preoperative anxiety correlates with reducing postoperative pain.”