About this Research Topic
Virtual Reality was first proposed as a distraction-based analgesic over 20 years ago. While attentional diversion can be powerful, it is only one possible use of virtual reality in pain research and treatment. Moreover, when pain is persistent, the short-term effect of distraction is less relevant. Over the last two decades, our understanding of the multidimensional nature of pain has expanded. Indeed, the list of recognized potential contributors now includes domains such as central sensitization, cortical re-organization, perceptual processes, psychosocial and behavioral factors, altered body image, and neuro-immune upregulation. And while progress has been made in multidisciplinary management of chronic pain, effect sizes for interventions are typically modest and treatment innovation is needed.
Innovation is also needed in the domain of acute pain management, particularly in light of the increasing push to limit opioid use. Here, acute pain management serves not only to alleviate immediate suffering, but is also an important preventative strategy against persistent pain.
Clearly, there is work to be done in both acute and chronic pain settings. Towards progress in these domains, virtual reality affords a unique set of tools that may facilitate better understanding and treatment.
We therefore welcome submissions of Original research and Reviews on the following topics:
- Fundamental, behavioral, and perceptual research involving immersive virtual reality to elucidate acute or chronic pain mechanisms.
- Evaluation of interventions for acute or chronic pain that involve virtual reality. In particular these interventions should go beyond, although may include, distraction.
- Research aiming to elucidate the mechanisms of virtual reality interventions for pain.
- Research relating to the implementation, usability, safety, and patient experience of novel virtual reality interventions.
- Theoretical perspectives and technical notes relating to novel virtual reality pain interventions.
- Reviews relating to virtual reality efficacy, effect modification, prediction, mediation, or other.
- Explorations of embodiment, embodied cognition, body ownership, body image, and other phenomena that could provide new insights into body perception and that may inform future pain research.
- Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches are welcome
- Virtual- and mixed- extended reality techniques are welcome, however only immersive techniques will be considered for publication.
Keywords: Virtual Reality, Pain, Rehabilitation, Extended Reality, Experimental Research
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.