Every January in Las Vegas the electronics enthusiasts commence upon the Las Vegas Convention Center in search of the latest and greatest technology advancements during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). A lifelong enthusiast myself, I have been part of the herd for a solid 15 years, trekking from booth to booth in search of the next big thing that will entertain me or make my life easier. This year the top five things on everyone’s mind were drones, home technology, virtual reality, wearables and cars.
Meandering aisle by aisle, it wasn’t until I came upon the virtual reality section that I fully appreciated how impactful advanced virtual reality headsets can be in the lives of those suffering from chronic pain. Last year virtual reality headsets had just started to become readily available to consumers and this year’s display by major players like Facebook-owned Oculus, Sony and Samsung marked a change in the market towards innovative accessories that can be used with eyewear to enhance your virtual reality experience. For the first time in the 48 year history of CES, they had an augmented reality exhibit where companies were in full force showcasing their latest innovations in virtual reality.
Virtual reality in healthcare is still in its' infancy, similar to where medical marijuana use found itself not so long ago. In the very near future things will get interesting with this technology with seamless integration and the combination of technologies like virtual reality with artificial intelligence, deep learning, big data, sensors, bio-feedback and increased computing power. In CES booth 26002 Oculus was focused on entertaining the masses with distraction; a technique that has been in use for over twenty years treating patients with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe pain in burn victims, and phobias of all kinds. Using this technology to expose patients gradually to stimuli that trigger their traumatic stress responses, patients are able to recover more quickly.
As a chronic back pain sufferer myself I saw an opportunity. Fully loaded with some of my favorite tasty treats from Altai Products, I indulged in the epicurean delight that is Altai’s mouth watering cannabis chocolates while waiting in line for my turn on the latest Oculus Rift. Over an hour in line and well into a solid eight hours on my feet, my back was killing me by the time I found myself in the room with a headset firmly in place. With the sweet taste of Altai’s gourmet products still in my mouth, I took a deep breath and found myself transported in body, mind and spirit to another place. Unsure if it was just finally sitting after a long day or the intense relaxation Altai’s high quality products tend to have on my personality, but the moments I spent locked into the virtual world in front of me left me forgetting I was even in pain. After a much anticipated wait the Rift will finally begin shipping on March 28 at a retail price of $599, and my experience left me adding it to my list of must haves for my own personal use.
Virtual reality is no longer just about video gaming. It promises nothing short of a pain management revolution, especially when combined with edibles.