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Doctors are discovering the potential of VR headsets as a non-drug way to treat their patients. from an alternative to general anesthetics to a cure for phobias and a potential life-changer for people with chronic pain – the NHS might be looking at expanding its VR capabilities. 

As an alternative to general anesthesia, which can leave patients feeling disoriented, with common physical side-effects including vomiting and chills, the NHS might start investing in VR and using local anesthetics as well, lowering hospital costs. 

The Irishnews.com reports that Ian McDonough (74) from Northumberland wore a VR headset while undergoing knee replacement surgery at Northumberland Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in 2020. He chose to watch a VR ‘live’ performance of the song Bohemian Rhapsody, which was so effective in taking his mind off the operation that he had it using a nerve block, rather than a general anesthetic. “It did take my mind off everything,” he said. “I was aware of some tugging, but I would certainly recommend it as an alternative to a general anesthetic.”

“We started with using VR headsets for elective orthopedic procedures such as knee replacements, but quickly found there was so much positive feedback that we have now expanded this,” said Dan Lawrance, an anesthesia associate at Northumberland Health Trust.

The doctors found that the headsets not only reduce anxiety, but also the side-effects they might have suffered with a general anesthetic.