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Virtual reality glasses being used in French hospitals

Hospitals are giving virtual reality (VR) glasses to patients undergoing operations to help them relax and to reduce pain and stress.

Rouen and Strasbourg are two of the hospitals to have taken up the technology, which was launched by French start-up HypnoVR last year. The glasses can be used before, during and after surgery. Benefits include allowing doctors to use local anaesthesia instead of general during surgery and patients managing pain better afterwards. It is particularly useful for chemotherapy.

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VR: Time-saving and patient-easing

HypnoVR president Denis Graff, a medical anaesthetist and hypnotherapist, said: “VR allows patients to avoid the post-operative monitoring room, which is mandatory for general anaesthesia, and thus shortens the length of stay in outpatient surgery on the ward. The indications are the same as for classical hypnosis. For some operations it is not recommended – however, to manage stress, to manage pain and to have less medication, it always works.”

Patients can choose the scenery to watch through the glasses and can even go on a journey into space, as well as to a tropical beach, snorkelling among fish and turtles, or walking in woods. In addition, they listen to a calming voice, do breathing exercises and listen to music – there is a choice of different types.

Patients still have to be put through some anaesthetic but the effect of virtual reality means doctors can reduce the amount of painkillers. Mr Graff said: “We are trying to fight against the over-consumption of drugs, and we are trying to treat pain with a non-medicinal method in order to reduce the consumption of potentially dangerous drugs that can have severe side-effects.”

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