The FDA, the US Food and Drug Administration, has just approved the use of a virtual reality system to treat chronic back pain.

The therapy is called "EaseVRx".

It was developed by the company AppliedVR.

To forget the pain

The EaseVRx system consists of a virtual reality headset and a headset that amplifies the breathing volume of users to help them perform breathing exercises.

Treatment is based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy.

This aims to help patients recognize and understand the thought patterns and emotions they have when pain becomes too much to bear.

Treatment relies on relaxation and distraction to relieve pain.

It aims to give patients a better perception of internal signals so that they can take a step back from their condition.

Results observed up to three months after therapy

To establish a basis for comparison, an eight-week study was conducted on 179 people who had suffered from low back pain for more than six months.

The participants were divided into two groups.

The first group used EaseVRx, while the second group participated in another virtual reality program that did not involve cognitive behavioral therapy.

The results showed that about 66% of participants in EaseVRx therapy experienced a reduction in pain of more than 30%, while only 41% of participants in the control group felt a similar reduction in their pain.

In addition, EaseVRx participants reported feeling the benefits of the therapy for up to three months after performing it.

The control group for its part did not report any effects over such a long time.

An alternative to opioid drugs

Christopher Loftus, acting director of the FDA's Office of Neurological and Physical Medicine Devices, says virtual reality systems could be an alternative to opioid drugs for back pain.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is concerned with the perception of symptoms and not with the pain itself, which continues to exist.

The integration of these methods into traditional health care also worries some health specialists, who see it as an excuse to withdraw drugs from patients.

This FDA approval comes a month after another virtual reality treatment was authorized by the US administration.

This is used as a treatment for visual disturbances in children.

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