Virtual reality technologies offer incredible potential. You may know them best from the gaming world, but they also play key roles in healthcare. Real physical therapists use virtual reality systems to help people with neurological and orthopedic conditions plus vestibular system issues such as vertigo. This short guide explains how VR therapies work and how you can benefit from Oklahoma City virtual reality physical therapy.
Helping You Understand Your Pain
Many of us think of pain only in terms of discomfort. That’s understandable. Pain impacts one’s quality of life in many different ways. But to recognize how it affects the human brain and body, we need to identify what makes it work. Simply put, pain consists of neurological signals. Nociceptors, the pain receptors in your body, send responses through your nerves and spinal cord to your brain for interpretation.
The parasympathetic nervous system is a critical component in pain signaling and processing. It’s part of the autonomic nervous system that manages involuntary bodily processes such as breathing, digestion, and blood circulation. The purpose of the parasympathetic nervous system is to conserve energy when our brains believe that an emergency is imminent. It reduces activity and arousal in our stomach nerves, salivary glands, blood vessels, and bladder nerves.
The sympathetic nervous system is a subset of the PSNS. While the PSNS is designed to calm you down, the SNS gets involved with the “fight or flight” response during stressful times. Chronic pain can cause the SNS to get stuck in fight or flight mode. Because chronic pain keeps your nervous system constantly overstimulated, that system becomes oversensitive and cannot operate as it should. In other words, chronic pain literally rewires your nervous system. Think of it this way: If your body is a starship, chronic pain makes its nervous system always on red alert even when there are no hostiles present and no phasers need to be fired.
Healing Your Brain and Body
Virtual reality therapies have advanced a long way in treating pain. New VR technologies such as BehaVR help clients by combining mindfulness techniques with pain neuroscience education to treat chronic pain. It’s easy to use and involves wearing a modified VR headset during each session.
One primary goal in treatment is to calm down the parasympathetic nervous system and in turn, the sympathetic nervous system that remains constantly triggered due to chronic pain. Technologies like BehaVR may help clients take more control over their chronic pain and experience relief. Some of the best physical therapists in Edmond West incorporate VR physical therapies into their treatment plans.
Advanced Solutions for Chronic Pain
Practitioners may recommend VR therapy combined with traditional physical therapy and other treatments. These therapies can help you manage chronic pain and reduce dependency on medications such as opioids. Together, they can significantly improve your quality of life. Every person’s experience and treatment plans look a little different. Your physical therapy clinic in Oklahoma City, OK can tell you more about how VR pain management therapies can help you.