VR technology offers alternative to opioids

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.- Virtual reality could be the latest weapon in the battle against opioid addiction. One Bowling Green based physical therapy clinic is using the technology to treat chronic and debilitating pain in patients

The ProRehab clinic in Bowling Green is part of a pilot program using a new VR platform. It’s an alternative to popping pills that is meant to drastically improve a patient’s experience with pain.

Patients strap on the virtual reality headset, and then they are emerged in a completely new environment.

The patient is able to navigate this new world where they’ll learn how to deal with pain flare-ups.

For the past 6-8 months, the technology has been used on patients experiencing serious pain. It works by teaching the brain to process aching and discomfort.

“Once they understand how the brain senses pain, and what happens in their brain when they have that pain, it helps them to understand what’s happening in their body. When they do that, they can control that pain,” said Bethany Richardson, therapist at ProRehab.

The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine reports 35 percent of patients who were sent to a physical therapy consult were less likely to be prescribed opioids.