NPR

Got Pain? A Virtual Swim With Dolphins May Help Melt It Away

A recent study found virtual reality experiences were better at easing pain than watching televised nature scenes. Immersive distraction seems key to the success, scientists say.
Though not the same as actually jumping into the waves, a virtual reality program like this one that let a headset-wearing patient "swim with dolphins" was enough of an immersive distraction to significantly reduce pain, a study found. Source: Courtesy of Cedars Sinai/Screenshot by NPR

Virtual reality is not new. But, as people search for alternative ways to manage pain — and reduce reliance on pills — VR is attracting renewed attention.

Imagine, for a moment you've been transported to a sunlit lagoon. And, suddenly, it's as if you're immersed in the warm water and swimming. That's what Tom Norris experiences when he straps on his VR headset.

"It's fantastic, I really feel like I'm there," says Norris, who is 70 years old, retired from the military, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife. As dolphins frolic and swim by in the virtual scene,

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