I really hate needles and I always have. My school used to hand out free vaccinations. Ones my parents still believe that I actually got to this day. I don’t know if some other kid got an extra dose, but I slipped by those needle-wielding harpies every time.
Now as an adult I can more or less take a shot without passing out, but there are still thousands of kids in the world that are understandably prickly about getting pricked. Now a new study claims that VR can be used to fool the little goblins into getting jabbed.
The Healing Power of VR
The idea that VR can have a therapeutic use is almost as old as VR itself. Psychologists have been using it to treat phobias for decades now. People with a fear of heights, spiders and other hard to simulate scenarios can be exposed bit by bit to what triggers them in a safe environment.
More recently,VR has also begun showing promise in the treatment of pain. A single study found that in some cases VR could reduce pain as much as actual pills. There are also apps aimed at reducing anxiety and helping people relax. Yet another study found significant benefits to giving VR experiences during dental procedures. Although these people luckily also got local anesthesia.
Don’t Stick Me Bro
So now one research team have conducted a pilot study to see if VR can help deal with children who suffer from a fear of needles. Basically, when little Timmy comes in for his tetanus shot after rolling around in a pile of rusty nails, the doctor will first give him a VR headset with a choice of some VR experiences. Then, while he’s engrossed on a virtual roller coaster or something, the doctor quickly stabs him like a vengeful wasp, but Timmy is too distracted to notice.
Now if only I could use the same trick to deal with the pain of tax returns…