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Virtually Better: VR as a New Clinical Tool in GI for COVID-19 and Beyond

Virtually Better: VR as a New Clinical Tool in GI for COVID-19 and Beyond

21 Aug 2021 10:44 10:56
(12 mins)
Brennan Spiegel Speaker
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Not so far in the future, in lieu of prescribing another pill, clinicians might prescribe a virtual beach vacation to ease aches and pains. Doctors might offer scenic tours of Icelandic fjords to reduce procedural anxiety. Gastroenterologists might immerse IBS patients in a virtual behavioral therapy clinic to manage visceral pain. It’s all starting to happen now because of virtual reality (VR). For decades, scientists in elite universities have been quietly discovering the surprising health benefits of VR for ailments ranging from burn injuries, to stroke, to acute stress. Over 5000 studies reveal that VR has an uncanny ability to lower pain, calm nerves and boost mental health without requiring pharmacotherapy. But the technology has been too expensive, unreliable and unwieldy for the research to translate beyond the pages of academic journals and doctoral dissertations… until now. Explosive advances in delivering low-cost, portable and high-quality VR has spawned a new field the FDA now calls Medical Extended Reality, or MXR.  In this lecture, Dr. Spiegel will describe frontline stories of using VR in over 3000 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, with a focus on uses of VR in the era of COVID-19, and will review his lab’s latest clinical research, including a recent randomized controlled trial testing VR in the hospital setting, a new virtual clinic for patients with IBS, and studies of VR for sphincter of Oddi dysfunction and dyspepsia, among other conditions.

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