US prescribes VR system for chronic back pain

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised a prescription-based VR system to treat chronic lower back pain.

The VR system, called EaseVRx, a virtual reality system developed by AppliedVR that uses cognitive behavioural therapy and other behavioural methods to help with pain reduction in patients aged 18 and over with diagnosed lower back pain. 

The system is intended for at-home self-use, prescribing a VR headset and a control as well as a ‘breathing amplifier’ attached to the headset that directs a patient’s breath towards the headset’s microphone for deep breathing exercise use. 

The therapy sessions aim to address the physiological symptoms of pain and in pain relief via a skills-based treatment program focused on deep relaxation, attention-shiften, interoceptive awareness and more. 

The EaseVRx treatment program offers 56 VR sessions ranging in length from 2-16 minutes, intended to be used as part of a daily eight-week treatment program. 

The FDA reported that 66% of EaseVRx participants cited a greater than 30% reduction in pain, compared to 41% of control participants who reported a greater than 30% reduction in pain. 

46% of EaseVRx participants reported a greater than 50% reduction in pain compared to 26% of control participants. 

Christopher Loftus, acting director, Office of Neurological and Physical Medical Devices, FDA, explained: “Millions of adults in the United States are living with chronic lower back pain that can affect multiple aspects of their daily life. 

“Pain reduction is a crucial component of living with chronic lower back pain. Today’s authorization offers a treatment option for pain reduction that does not include opioid pain medications when used alongside other treatment methods for chronic lower back pain.”

Photo credit: wavebreakmedia, Shutterstock

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