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|Virtual reality distraction induces hypoalgesia in patients with chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial|
|Matheve T, Bogaerts K, Timmermans A|
|Journal of NeuroEngineering & Rehabilitation 2020 Apr 22;17(55):Epub|
|6/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: Yes; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: No; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: No; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*|
BACKGROUND: Attentional distraction from pain has been shown to be largely ineffective for obtaining a hypoalgesic effect in patients with chronic pain when compared to a control condition. It has been hypothesized that this may be due to the non-engaging types of distraction that have been used so far. Moreover, it is suggested that the hypoalgesic effects of distraction may be attenuated by pain-related cognitions and emotions, as they may increase the attention to pain. METHODS: In this randomized controlled trial, patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain in the intervention group (n = 42) performed a single exercise session with nonimmersive VR games, while those in the control group (n = 42) performed the same exercises without VR games. We investigated whether VR distraction had a hypoalgesic effect during and immediately after the exercises, and whether it reduced the time spent thinking of pain during the exercises. We further explored whether pain-related fear, pain catastrophizing and baseline pain intensity moderated the effects of VR distraction. RESULTS: VR distraction had a hypoalgesic effect during (Cohen's d = 1.29) and immediately after (Cohen's d = 0.85) the exercises, and it also reduced the time spent thinking of pain (Cohen's d = 1.31). Preliminary exploratory analyses showed that pain-related fear, pain catastrophizing and baseline pain intensity did not moderate the effects of VR distraction. CONCLUSIONS: Large effect sizes of VR distraction induced hypoalgesia were observed. This suggests that nonimmersive VR games can be used when it is deemed important to reduce the pain during exercises in patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT02679300. This trial was registered on 10 February 2016.