Effects of Videogame Distraction using a Virtual Reality Type Head-Mounted Display Helmet on Cold Pressor Pain in Children

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Abstract

Objective

To test whether a head-mounted display helmet enhances the effectiveness of videogame distraction for children experiencing cold pressor pain.

Method

Forty-one children, aged 6–14 years, underwent one or two baseline cold pressor trials followed by two distraction trials in which they played the same videogame with and without the helmet in counterbalanced order. Pain threshold (elapsed time until the child reported pain) and pain tolerance (total time the child kept the hand submerged in the cold water) were measured for each cold pressor trial.

Results

Both distraction conditions resulted in improved pain tolerance relative to baseline. Older children appeared to experience additional benefits from using the helmet, whereas younger children benefited equally from both conditions. The findings suggest that virtual reality technology can enhance the effects of distraction for some children. Research is needed to identify the characteristics of children for whom this technology is best suited.

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