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IT & InnovationSwedish pharmacy chain creates pain relief through VR

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Virtual reality has swiftly grown from a science fiction concept, to a reality appearing in the homes of many across the world. While VR may be more prevalent throughout video game communities, its seemingly limitless potential is taking it across all sectors.

Currently, it has a wide variety of uses, such as military training such as battlefield simulation, prototyping new car concepts and even enhancing lessons in classrooms. In Sweden, the VR industry swiftly took off as new studios opened across the country dedicating themselves to the emerging virtual reality industry.

Dylan Baker, IT and Innovation Specialist at Eurostaff commented on Sweden’s VR adoption:

“While many are surprised at how quickly the VR sector grew in Sweden, those within the industry were not. The Nordic regions have always had a history of mastering new technology as it emerges in the gaming space and virtual reality has been no different.”

However, it’s not just gaming the Swiss are focusing on and Sweden’s largest pharmacy chain, Apotek Hjärtat have developed Happy Place, a VR app dedicated to pain relief. The method behind this is to offer an experience that will distract users from their pain with a virtual, interactive environment.

The app, which is available for free on Oculus Rift headsets, allows users to spend time at a lakeside campfire and as day progresses into night, the patient is given a distraction from the pain they are facing. The serene surroundings and optional soothing music is designed to help create an escape for users.

There’s also a narrator who helps guide users through the experience with a calm, seemingly omnipotent voice. Offering advice to the player as they explore, the narrator helps users work through pain relief tactics:

“Acknowledge any thoughts without trying to get rid of them. Keep taking several slow deep abdominal breaths.”

Dylan Baker, IT and Innovation Specialist at Eurostaff spoke about what this creative use of VR means for the industry:

“While the VR app is designed as a video game, the purpose of its creation shows just how much potential virtual reality has across all industries. VR has the potential to revolutionise every work place in some form and as the tech continues to grow, so will the jobs it creates. It’s an exciting time for anyone who wants to work within the industry.”

Sweden isn’t the only place using the tech as a form of pain relief, the Virtual Medical Centre, is a facility in San Diego that utilises VR treatment to help reduce the pain a patient feels. With scenarios such as enchanted forests, cliffs, castles and beaches, the method has been clinically proven to help reduce stress and perceived pain in patients receiving procedures. While the virtual reality app is meant to be used with traditional painkillers, it can also work as a stand-alone pain relief technique.

The new technology is helping empower doctors all over the world to provide new methods of pain relief to their patients, whether it’s for vaccinations or other procedures. As VR continues to make its uses in the workplace known, the demand for more apps like Happy Place will grow, leading to more opportunities for developers across Europe.



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