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Repeated Use of Immersive Virtual Reality Therapy to Control Pain During Wound Dressing Changes in Pediatric and Adult Burn Patients

Faber, Albertus W. MSc*; Patterson, David R. PhD, ABPP, ABPH; Bremer, Marco MSc

doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e3182777904
Original Articles

The current study explored whether immersive virtual reality (VR) continues to reduce pain (via distraction) during more than one wound care session per patient. Thirty-six patients aged 8 to 57 years (mean age, 27.7 years), with an average of 8.4% TBSA burned (range, 0.25–25.5 TBSA) received bandage changes, and wound cleaning. Each patient received one baseline wound cleaning/debridement session with no-VR (control condition) followed by one or more (up to seven) subsequent wound care sessions during VR. After each wound care session (one session per day), worst pain intensity was measured using a visual analog thermometer, the dependent variable. Using a within-subjects design, worst pain intensity during wound care with no-VR (baseline, day 0) was compared with pain during wound care while using immersive VR (up to 7 days of wound care during VR). Compared with pain during no-VR baseline (day 0), pain ratings during wound debridement were statistically lower when patients were in VR on days 1, 2, and 3, and although not significant beyond day 3, the pattern of results from days 4, 5, and 6 are consistent with the notion that VR continues to reduce pain when used repeatedly. Results from the present study suggest that VR continues to be effective when used for three (or possibly more) treatments during severe burn wound debridement.

From the *Department of Medical Psychology, Martini Hospital, Groningen, the Netherlands; Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle; and the Burn Centre, Martini Hospital, Groningen, the Netherlands.

Supported primarily by the Dutch Burns Foundation grant number 05.112. Secondary support was from the Scan Design Foundation by Inger and Jens Bruun, and the following NIH grants: 1R01AR054115-01A1, R01GM042725-17A1.

Address correspondence to Albertus W. Faber, MSc, Martini Hospital, Department of Medical Psychology, P.O. Box 30033, 9700 RM Groningen, the Netherlands.

© 2013 The American Burn Association