Samsung part of healthcare collaboration to explore use of “Therapeutic VR” for chronic pain management

March 6, 2018 – The Travelers Companies, Inc. has announced it is collaborating with Cedars-Sinai, Samsung Electronics America, Bayer and AppliedVR to explore the effectiveness of a digital pain-reduction kit that uses “therapeutic virtual reality” and wearable technology as a non-pharmacological supplement to managing chronic pain* associated with acute orthopedic injuries of the lower back and extremities. Cedars-Sinai’s Center for Outcomes Research & Education and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery will conduct the clinical research project over 16 months and include between 90 and 140 participants, ages 18 to 65. The goal of the program is to improve outcomes for injured workers by leveraging technology.

Samsung will showcase and demo solutions developed in partnership with these healthcare organizations today at the HIMSS Conference, which is being held at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas, USA. The company has also announced enhancements to its Samsung Health platform to coincide with the recent launch of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+.

Dr. Melissa Burke, National Pharmacy Director at Travelers, said: “Identifying new, non-pharmacologic alternatives for pain management can help an injured employee avoid chronic pain, lower the chances that they will develop a dangerous opioid addiction and reduce medical costs. We are grateful for this partnership and look forward to seeing the results that Dr. Brennan Spiegel and the Cedars-Sinai team uncover using the latest technology from AppliedVR, Bayer and Samsung.”

“The opioid crisis doesn’t just cost money, it also costs lives,” said Dr. Spiegel, Director of Health Services Research at Cedars-Sinai. “We need to find ways to stem the tide without relying entirely on medicines. Health technology, like virtual reality, has tremendous potential to improve outcomes while saving costs, which is why we’re so excited about this collaboration among academia and industry.”

The digital pain-reduction kit to be used in the trial consists of a Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus, headset; Samsung GearFit2 wearable; therapeutic pain management content, powered by biosensors provided by AppliedVR; and an Aleve Direct Therapy TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) Device for those with lower back pain from sore and aching muscles due to strain from exercise and normal household and work activities, provided by Bayer. The kit will measure day-to-day functional status, work productivity and the use of pain medication of participants.

“Recent research we’ve led with AppliedVR and Cedars-Sinai have demonstrated that virtual reality reduces pain in hospitalized patients and provides a non-pharmacologic alternative to opiates,” said Dr. David Rhew, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Health Care and Fitness for Samsung Electronics America. “This project is exciting and groundbreaking in that it will be the first to evaluate the economic benefits of virtual reality in the setting of workers compensation.”

*VR is not currently an FDA-approved tool to treat pain, and any use of it to treat pain is considered investigational and it is recommended it should be done in coordination with healthcare providers.

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About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he covers news articles on both the AR and VR industries. He also has an interest in human augmentation technology as a whole, and does not just limit his learning specifically to the visual experience side of things.