Opening Keynote – Virtually Better: The Science and Practice of Therapeutic Virtual Reality

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December 14
9:30 am PST
30 minutes
Back to 2022 agenda

Not so far in the future, clinicians might prescribe a virtual beach vacation to ease aches and pains instead of prescribing another pill. Psychiatrists might treat social anxiety by inviting patients to a dinner party or reminiscing with Alzheimer patients in a replica of their childhood home. Hospitals might immerse children in fantastical playlands while they receive chemotherapy or undergo frightening medical tests. It’s all starting to happen now because of virtual reality (VR). For decades, scientists in elite universities have been quietly discovering the surprising health benefits of VR for ailments ranging from burn injuries to stroke and acute stress. Over 17,000 studies reveal that VR has an uncanny ability to lower pain, calm nerves, and boost mental health without requiring pharmacotherapy. But the technology has been too expensive, unreliable, and unwieldy for the research to translate beyond the pages of academic journals and doctoral dissertations… until now. Explosive advances in delivering low-cost, portable, and high-quality VR has spawned a new field the FDA now calls Medical Extended Reality or MXR. In this lecture, Dr. Brennan Spiegel will describe frontline stories of using VR in over 3000 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and will review his lab’s latest clinical research, including a trial testing VR in the hospital setting, a new virtual clinic for patients with IBS, and NIH sponsored research testing VR for managing acute and chronic pain.

Learning objectives

  • Define the new FDA field of extended medical reality (MXR)
  • Learn what the “metaverse” is and how it may be leveraged for treatment purposes
  • Evaluate clinical data using VR to support mental health conditions
  • Explore how VR is used to manage acute and chronic pain in the context of the opioid epidemic
  • Discuss implementation and funding challenges to scaling MXR across healthcare

Session Video

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