The Virtual Meditative Walk: An Immersive Virtual Environment for Pain Self-modulation Through Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Meditation
One in five people in North America experience chronic pain. The primary non-pharmacological approach to treat chronic pain is to ‘manage’ pain by practices like Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Meditation. Previous research shows the potential of mindfulness meditation to help foster patients’ emotional wellbeing and pain self-modulation. Thus, the Virtual Reality (VR) system named “Virtual Meditative Walk” (VMW) was developed to help patients direct their attention inward through mindfulness meditation, which incorporates biofeedback sensors, an immersive virtual environment, and stereoscopic sound. It was specifically designed to help patients to learn MBSR meditation by providing real-time feedback, and to provide further training reinforcement. VMW enables patients to manage their chronic pain by providing real-time immersive visual signals and sonic feedback, which are mapped to their physiological biofeedback data. In the proof-of-concept study, this combination of immersive VR and MBSR meditation pain self-modulation technique proved to be effective for managing chronic pain.
KeywordsVirtual reality Chronic pain Mindfulness-based stress reduction meditation Immersive environment
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