LEGACY IN THE NEWS: Escaping Reality of Pain in a World of Snow

"Wound treatment was the worst pain I've ever experienced," says Randy McAllister.  The 60 year old farmer from The Dalles was caught in a wheat field fire this summer that left him with burns all over his body.

Theresa McSherry, RN asked Randy if he was willing to try a new tool the Legacy Oregon Burn Center has started using to help burn patients reduce pain levels during wound treatments.  Developed especially for patients like Randy, the Virtual Reality Pain Management system includes equipment and software which immerses a patient into SnowWorld: where they "fly" through snowy canyons with a frigid river and throw snowballs at penguins, igloos and woolly mammoths. 

The notion is that it takes attention to process pain, so if you're able to pull away attention, people will experience less pain and related anxiety.  In the case of SnowWorld, specific features were put into the program to keep patients calm and relaxed, unlike a conventional video game.

Randy says he's a farmer not a gamer, but he was willing to give it a try.  He was surprised by the results, "I had something else to apply my brain to.  It's not about being successful.  You're looking for the next challenge and you stop thinking about what the nurse is doing."

Legacy Emanuel Medical Center is one of only a handful of hospitals in the country to offer virtual reality pain management for burn patients.  Legacy Oregon Burn Center was able to purchase the equipment and software thanks to the generous donations made to the Emanuel Medical Center Foundation

Click here to read the full Oregonian story: http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2011/12/in_an_imaginary_world_oregon_b.html