One such burn victim, Caleb Springer, aged 23, from Valdez in Alaska suffered second and third degree burns when he caught on fire in a motor bike accident. He was burnt over a large portion of his body when gasoline poured out of this bike and was set on fire by a spark from a cigarette. His burns were excruciating and skin was hanging down in shreds. He was rushed to a special treatment center in Seattle, where a pioneer treatment is using virtual reality games to help the pain.
SnowWorld, set in an icy 3D canyon, was developed by Professor Hunter Hoffman and Professor David Patterson at the University of Washington Harborview Burn Centre in Seattle. The game is meant to hold the attention of the patient enough so that it gives them an escape from pain because their brain is concentrating on the game.
The scientists base this principle on how the body feels pain, emotions and how distractions affect these. They discovered that since pain has a strong psychological component to it, psychological treatments can be used to counteract the pain. It turns out that because humans are so visually dominant that wherever you’re looking typically is where your attention is focused.
Because of that, the patients can play the game and get enough involved that they can ignore the pain of the treatment while it is being done.
It appears to be working, as Springer says it really helps him as he heals from his horrific injuries.