Snowy Game, VR Goggles Take Burn Victims’ Minds Off Of Pain

By Ben Kuchera
November 14, 2008
ARS Technica

You’d think being seriously wounded on the battlefield would be the most painful thing a soldier could go through, but the recovery from burns can take months of agonizing physical therapy that prolongs the suffering. In some cases, healing can be more painful than the original trauma. What if you could take patients away from their immediate surroundings when cleaning their burns or stretching the skin during physical therapy? A virtual reality game created to help patients deal with pain hopes to do just that.

Called Snow World, the game is an immersive experience that helps the patients deal with challenges in a calm, cold place. The game was designed by Hunter Hoffman, director of the University of Washington’s VR Analgesia Research Center, with psychologist David Patterson, the chief of rehabilitation medicine at Harborview Burn Center. The game was originally used with children during their rehabilitation, but is now being tested on wounded soldiers. The results have been better than any of the researchers had hoped.  More…