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Medicine Games

SnowWorld VR Game Reduces Pain For Burn Patients 64

Bonker writes "The Beeb has news of a simple virtual reality game being used during treatments and rehabilitation for burn patients. Players who engage in a fast-paced snowball fight with penguins and snowmen report feeling less pain. SnowWorld was developed by Professor Hunter Hoffman and Professor David Patterson at the University of Washington Harborview Burn Center in Seattle. Hoffman said, 'Because humans are so visually dominant, wherever you're looking typically that's where your attention is focused. (For patients) during wound care, when they're getting their bandages changed, they're looking at these different tools that the nurses are using to treat them, and just looking at those objects makes them anxious. They begin to associate objects in the room with high pain so you can imagine that day after day they start to develop psychological associations between the treatment room and pain, amplifying how much pain they experience.'"
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SnowWorld VR Game Reduces Pain For Burn Patients

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  • by Manip ( 656104 ) on Monday January 31, 2011 @03:56PM (#35059658)
    I REALLY wish my dentist had some kind of distraction... I mean going to the dentists is a really unfun experience generally speaking. I'd love to see TV, or a little game to draw attention from the drilling, poking, pulling, and injections.
    • by Tolkien ( 664315 ) on Monday January 31, 2011 @04:11PM (#35059796) Journal

      One of the dental hygienists at my dentist's office looks like Yasmine Bleeth did back when Baywatch was popular and she leans over the chair and my head to have a clear view in my mouth, all the while pressing her very nice chest right up against my head. I always look forward to my dental appointments! She's even quite nice to converse with between dental instruments.

      • by e9th ( 652576 )
        One German dentist has built her practice [] around this.
      • by antdude ( 79039 )

        Been there, done that as a teenager with orthodentist nurses. :)

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It probably helps that the blood drains out of your head making you slightly delirious, then rushes back in again giving a feeling of euphoria.

        • by Tolkien ( 664315 )

          Not at all, the worst was when I got my wisdom teeth pulled and was watching the dentist pry them out with force, but I was anesthetized so I didn't feel it as much, though I did feel it more than I felt I possibly should have, I'm guessing I was just slightly resistant to the local anesthetic injection they gave me. It hurt like hell later of course but that's normal. During normal or minor (tooth repair or whatnot) the most they ever get out of me is a wince, they're worth every penny, and I get to enjoy

    • by Anonymous Coward

      My childhood dentist had hygienists that looked like (70's era) Playboy bunnies. I found that helped quite a bit.

      Unfortunately, my wife has no idea what to do with the drawer full of latex gloves, dental picks, and tooth polish.

    • by migla ( 1099771 ) on Monday January 31, 2011 @04:19PM (#35059860)

      I developed a slight aversion against being at the dentist since one time, when a dentist asked if I wanted anesthesia I thought if he asks, it can't be that bad...

      When I'm in the chair, undergoing something unpleasant, I tap the back of my hand with my finger and try to focus my thoughts on my tapping. I think it might be helping a little.

      I think there are techniques resembling this in cognitive behavioral therapy, but I haven't looked into it any deeper. I don't fear the dentist that much.

      • by yotto ( 590067 )

        I just bring my iPod and listen to podcasts. Kinda hard when they're drilling but just for normal stuff it makes the time fly by.

      • by Tolkien ( 664315 )

        I look them dead in the eye. Especially the hot one, can't get enough of her. Oooooohhhmmmmm.

    • by Veinor ( 871770 )
      Yeah, until you jerk your head involuntarily in reaction to something exciting on the TV.
    • My dentist has had TVs in his ceilings for years. He, his hygienists and his patients all love it. I'm not sure why other offices haven't tried the idea. Maybe that's a business waiting to happen? Then again, I'm an idiot....
    • My company, Firsthand Technology, built the version of SnowWorld, in the video (and most of Dr. Hoffman's VR applications since about 1995).

      Funny you should mention dentists... Our most recent application (not for Dr. Hoffman) is a Science Fiction game: "Attack! of the S. Mutans," a stereoscopic 3D multiplayer game with 11-foot screens and WiiMotes that is part of an oral heatlh education exhibit. We have contemplated using VR in dentists offices many times over the years. The issue that keeps stopping
  • When I was a kid, I was on some drugs that the doctors had to occasionally monitor. Its been a long time, but, still to this day I have the occasional flobotomist who tells me "Don't you want to look away?", or is a little taken aback by the fact that I just sit there and watch the needle go in, and the blood come out. It really doesn't hurt that much (unless they fuck it up...)

    Then again, I am also told that I am a flobotomists dream "You don't have veins, you have hoses" one told me, as she drew the 6th v

    • I have veins like that too -- and I also don't have a problem with watching the needle. Hey, I'm getting it done because it has to get done.

      The grammar snob in me would like to point out that you meant "phlebotomist". But it's a tough word to spell. Probably a lot of points in Scrabble, too.

      • It could be that you're more relaxed, and that means the bloodflow to the arms and legs doesn't get cut off by the anxiety response. Me, I've got no problem there either, 4 vials I think was the most they've drawn in one go. I've got a serious phobia of lancets (those little thing that go "click" against your finger) though - last time I could have one used on me, I was half out of it from appendicitis.
        • Same here. Totally off topic, but the other day I have to have some blood work done for my yearly military work-up and the *very* green phlebotomist went through the whole procedure and after about two minutes and one vial starting complaining about how slow my blood flows. I wasn't going to because it was amusing and I was having fun, but I went ahead and pointed out that she never removed the tourniquet. Amazing how much faster it came out after that...and how red she got from the embarrassment. I bet sh
          • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

            Heh funny what people will put up with for humor. My wife and I love this diner up the road and like to go there on weekends so much that we address the wait staff by name. One day we sat down at the counter, and one of the owners was serving... she kind of forgot about us.. never took our order.

            Anywhere else, we would have said something, and my wife would have been pissy and making comments by this point. However, instead we were giggling about, and joking about how we should take bets on how long it will

    • Flobotomist's dream, PhTW!
    • I'm exactly the opposite. I inherited my mother's veins -- tiny spidery things that flatten out when I straighten my arm. Usually when blood is drawn from me it's drawn from the back of my hand. My nephew passes out when he has blood drawn, the next time he's vertical and moving, whether immediately or 15 minutes later.

    • I can't watch my blood being drawn... It's not the needle. You could stick me with that thing for eight hours and I'd just go home and drink a beer. But the sight of blood pumping with my own heartbeat into a little vial? I pass right the fuck out.
    • I'm like that I'd much rather watch and know when something is going to hurt and to be surprised by pain, put me out or let me watch. I was also a burn patient, I lit my right hand on fire and the article is right, the pain from the burn is less than the pain from being treated. They had me on so much morphine that I had to remember to breath and it still hurt more than anything else being deroofed. Luckily my burns were not severe enough to require skin grafting, but looked bad enough for the local hospita

  • Oh great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Monday January 31, 2011 @03:59PM (#35059700) Homepage
    Now they'll associate the pain with snow and penguins! (surely this can't be some MS plot... right? Right?!)
  • Example sicknesses, associated with the corresponding distraction:
    • Chickenpox, age 11, Sonic 2
    • Food poisoning, age 16, GTA III
    • Flu, age 18, Metal Gear Solid 2
    • Dental surgery, age 21, Freelancer
    • Mono, age 22, (Nothing, that was awful)

    I mean it's probably not so easy now being an adult, but video games have always been a huge help when it comes to getting over sicknesses. It makes perfect sense for burn victims, especially, to have an immersive type of distraction. We have the ability to, so why not?
    Also, I'm not sure why they came up with a brand-new game for this, when they could have just set up Mario 64 and had them race the penguin on loop.

    • by healyp ( 1260440 )
      "Also, I'm not sure why they came up with a brand-new game for this, when they could have just set up Mario 64 and had them race the penguin on loop."

      Because that level was so god damned aggravating! I don't remember how many times I've been down that fucking course! One false move and it's into the abyss! The song is still stuck in my head...

    • Example sicknesses, associated with the corresponding distraction:

      Distraction, or nefarious cause?!

      I'm going to assume you already had Sonic 2 when you came down with chickenpox, and similarly for the other instances, and further assume you had played it quite a bit despite not being sick, and lastly I'm going to assume that correlation equals causation, proving that video games cause diseases and dental maladies that require surgery! Except Mono, thank goodness for that.

      And if that seems illogical, that's

    • I don't know if it's just distraction, or actual association with cold that counteracts the feeling of the heat damage. I know when I watched "The Day After Tomorrow", as stupid as the movie was, it authentically made me feel cold, and I bundled up in a thick sweater in the middle of summer. Of course, I'm a desert rat who craves the heat, but even then it was quite an excessive physical response.

    • by Bonker ( 243350 )

      I've always thought that Child's Play [] was the most fantastic take on this. Video games distract you from the suck when you're sick or in pain. Gabe, Tycho, and thousands of gamers have grown up in the last couple decades experiencing that and have brought the same relief to lots of kids.

      These guys are in Seattle. They need to hook up.

    • Sounds great! What game do you recommend for people with RSI pains?
  • by kbob88 ( 951258 ) on Monday January 31, 2011 @04:23PM (#35059890)

    Clearly it's the penguins that are helping!

    In another study, patients who played a game that featured windows and paper-clips reported much levels of pain...

    • by kbob88 ( 951258 )

      that's what I get for blowing though the preview page -- I meant much higher levels of pain

    • And in yet another related study, patients who ended up playing dante's inferno and Diablo 2 reported much MUCH higher levels of pain...

      Kidding aside, I wonder how much theme of the game (considering the patients illness) has to do with it, as opposed to any other type of game. Does the snowball / penguin thing help more because they're burn victims - or would any game provide the same kind of relief (a distraction is all that's necessary). If there's a correlation, maybe we can 'prescribe' some Dr Mar
  • "They begin to associate objects in the room with high pain..."

    They just need to create different associations [].
  • If SnowWorld helps that much imagine what PornWorld will do!
  • Anyone else notice how his name is more or less a mash up of Hunter Thompson and Albert Hofmann?
  • I suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my hand about 5 years ago, and let me tell you, I wish I had something like this to take my mind off the pain. The best theyu could do for me was for me to watch movies. That just doesn't provide enough to focus on to be able to ignore the pain. A video game definitaley would have helped.
    • The pain didn't bother me as much as the itching stinging gritty sensation, like having a bad sunburn for 3 fucking months! Well it might have lasted for longer but a visiting MD. told me about benadryl.

  • I wonder of one of the other effects is that playing a fast game kicks in the fight part of the fight or flight reflex. In this state the body releases natural pain killing chemicals that increase one's ability to fight and not get distracted by pain.

  • A game filled with snow helping burn victims feel less pain? Imagine that.

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