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Virtual Relief

Pain is a continuous challenge for healthcare providers. A new alternative form of pain management is Virtual Reality (VR). VR has proven effective in pain management; experimental pain, pain from burns, phantom pains, pain during dentistry, fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain and post-operative cardiac rehabilitation. The applicability of VR to combat pain is related to the degree of immersion offered by the VR application. Immersion can be described as the feeling that occurs in a situation where the viewer focuses on the medium content in such a way that he or she no longer notices the surroundings. The literature also recognizes different levels and types of immersion. Pain can in this context be described as the environment from which the patient has to disconnect and it is a measurable factor to determine the degree of immersion.

This research focuses on the correlation between immersion and pain, with a specific application in the midwifery context. Consequently, the research question is as follows: What level and type of immersion that can be obtained by Virtual Reality is effective in combating specific types of pain, with delivery pain as a concrete case?

Through desk research, a literature study and the following of lectures, we will study in which cases VR is already being used for pain management world-wide. This involves mapping out which type and level of immersion is considered the most effective for a specific type of pain. At the same time, the target group and the field of work will be questioned about their specific needs regarding delivery pain. The Immersive Lab, in close collaboration with experts from the field, will develop a prototype as well as an analysis model to perform user tests. The results will form the basis for extrapolating this knowledge to follow-up projects to combat all types of pain.

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