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Game Found to Reduce Pain in Burn Victims - Could they help IC too?

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  • Game Found to Reduce Pain in Burn Victims - Could they help IC too?

    (By Jill Osborne MA, ICN President & Founder)

    When NBC's Rock Center did a story on a soldier who was finding relief for his pain using a virtual reality video game, it caught my attention. As you probably know, burns can be agonizingly painful especially daily treatments to remove damaged skin. It's something that must be done that both the patients and the doctors dread. Some researchers, however, decided to try something new. They created a 3D alternate reality game that patients could play during appointments. Because burns are so "hot", this game focused on "cool" and had the patients throw snowballs at penguins in a winter landscape.

    The results were simply marvelous. Patients reported dramatically less pain and, in a surprising result, the brain scans of these patients also showed dramatically less brain activity that is associated with pain. It appears that the brain is actually sensing less pain when these games are played. This technique is now being used in burn units throughout the world and, in particular, with soldiers returning with serious injuries.

    I was intrigued because I'm a gamer. A perfect Saturday afternoon for me is playing games, such as RAILS, Monopoly, Apples to Apples, Spades and more! Laughter can be so healing. But, I was never a video gamer until my brother gave me a disk for the popular game "World of Warcraft" while I was dealing with some very scary heart problems.* It was immediately helpful! I was able to immerse myself in a gorgeous world where I could explore beautiful landscapes, meet fun people and play an "elf."

    You might be surprised to learn that a large number of players are actually men and women in their 30's, 40, 50's and older. It's very popular with members of the military. I also play with police officers, doctors, nurses, professors, college students and, yes, a surprising number of mothers and grandmothers. Many are married and you'll often find families playing together. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I joined a party that included a mother, father, 14 year old daughter and a 9 year old son.

    Yet, over the years, what has touched me the most are the number of players who participate from their home despite serious illness and disabilities. Several of my military friends are recovering from head injuries, blast injuries, back injuries and PTSD. I've played with patients struggling with cancer and, in one case, a teenager severely injured in a fire. One mother had her ten year old playing WOW, supervised of course, to help improve the function of his fingers after they were badly burned.

    Just as the burn victims found their video game, my friends have found WOW incredibly helpful. I can't exactly say why... but what I do know is that when I do play, my physical discomforts fall away and I can find my smile again. I also love the social aspect. I've made some fantastic friends.

    So, if you are struggling with pain and find yourself feeling lonely and uncomfortable, you might find games like World of Warcraft or Rift fun and even helpful! If you don't believe that games can really help reduce pain, watch this video! Research has PROVEN that burn victims feel less pain when playing their game and I believe that gaming may provide a similar effect for IC'ers. No prescription required. Think about it.

    - Jill, Level 90 Blood Elf Hunter, Surv spec, PVE Preferred, Cross Realm Raid Invites Welcome! Send me an email if you want to play! ([email protected])
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    Please remember that the information on the ICN is provided with the understanding that ICN, its founder, staff, volunteers, and participants are not engaged in rendering medical or professional medical services. We cannot and do not give medical advice. Only your personal physician can do this for you.