As technological capabilities surged in 2020, a plethora of innovative tools emerged. Remarkably, patients with chronic pain can now potentially counteract pain signals through Virtual Reality (VR). But could such a technique find applications in the realm of sports?Read more: Harnessing VR Technology in 2020 to Counteract Chronic Pain & Potential Sports Applications
The Rise of VR as a Medical Marvel:
Patients suffering from chronic pain often resort to potent medications, including Morphine, to alleviate their agony. Yet, at the Medical Center Leeuwarden, a groundbreaking approach is being trialed. Reducept, a company renowned for its digital medical innovations and training, introduced a VR headset that clinched the prestigious World Summit Award from the UN. This device lets users target and “shoot” pain signals traveling through their nerve pathways. Louis Zantema, a psychologist, elaborates in “Goedemorgen Nederland”, stating, “In a rather uncanny way, it deceives the brain region from where the pain originates, altering its response to pain.” Watch the product’s trailer here: link.
Realistic Outcomes and Broadened Horizons:
While optimistic about the potential, Zantema also admits that some individuals might not benefit from the training, though a promising 80% of users responded positively. He emphasizes that it’s no panacea but offers hope for certain patients.
Sports: The Next Frontier for VR?
How could this VR concept integrate into sports? Imagine assisting athletes plagued by persistent, inexplicable injuries, often termed as phantom injuries. Sports have already embraced VR in myriad ways, catering to both fans and athletes. Beyond Sports, headquartered in Alkmaar, specializes in VR software, allowing players to relive match moments from diverse perspectives using Oculus Rift, simulating experiences through their eyes, opponents’ viewpoints, or an aerial field view. Notably, elite clubs like Ajax, PSV, AZ, and even the Dutch Football Association have partnered with Beyond Sports to hone their athletes.
Gaming, VR, and Cognitive Reshaping:
What truly captivates is the potential of gaming and VR in manipulating our brain functions. Consider influencing thoughts during a game. Many athletes grapple with mental challenges, be it fear of failure, frustrations, or discovering that elusive “flow” state. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a relatively fresh approach, encourages athletes to develop cognitive flexibility, especially in stressful scenarios. ACT’s goal is to ground individuals in the present, downplaying their inhibitive thoughts. Utilizing games and VR can potentially help athletes “shoot” away these negative notions, integrating a virtual “focus” button for added efficacy.
Speculating on Sports Mindset Training with VR:
Envisaging the Reducept protocol, athletes could engage in a mere 10-minute daily training, equipped with a VR headset, to annihilate adverse thoughts, anchor themselves in the present, and locate their “flow” switch. This cerebral manipulation may optimally prepare them mentally prior to games or training sessions.
Though purely speculative, the potential of VR in modulating pain and possibly refining athletes’ mental states, especially when considering the success of pain signal “shooting”, seems promising. The future may yet reveal more on this captivating synergy.