Virtual reality is a technology with seemingly limitless potential, not just in the gaming space, but across a range of industries. The health field, in particular, is interested in the potential applications of VR tech to assist patients suffering from chronic pain. In his talk at GDC, David Putrino, Ph.D., walked through his organization’s efforts to leverage virtual reality in the medical space.
Putrino works as an assistant professor at the Ichan School of Mount Sinai, an integrated network of hospitals and medical facilities spread out across New York City. Currently, the Mount Sinai health system encompasses eight hospitals, more than 45 ambulatory practices, and the Ichan School.
In addition to being an assistant professor, Putrino runs Mount Sinai’s Abilities Research Center, where specialists are working to develop new ways to treat chronically painful illnesses. According to Putrino, there is only so much medications can do to help with chronic pain. In fact, he said that a very small percentage–less than 30 percent–of patients who experience neuropathic pain benefit from medications. Putrino and his team are looking for ways to bypass the need for medications, and VR may just be the solution they’re looking for.