Progressive Muscle Relaxation in VR

Many patients that suffer from localised pain are often dealing with the situation when their pain is substantially intensified because of the muscles becoming tense in the corresponding region. One technique that is proven to help with easing this muscle tension is Progressive Muscle Relaxation. One type of progressive muscle relaxation involves performing a series of exercises that aim at tensing and releasing all of the muscles in a patient’s body except for those that are causing the pain. After performing these exercises the muscles in the pain region would also relax and the pain would decrease.

Under supervision of medical professionals practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation we have developed a Virtual Reality prototype that will be tested with patients in the Liverpool Hospital later this month. The prototype features an experience of traveling to the patient’s subconsciousness. A problem to combat in this fantasy world is the pain that is represented as a spiky red character inside a boat attached to a hot air balloon. Patients can wobble the sandbags hanging off the sides of the boat by tensing and relaxing their muscles. After successful completion of each exercise the corresponding sandbag would drop and the boat would be flying higher into the sky. The objective of this mini game is to complete all the exercises and release the pain by sending it all the way up into the sky.

Hopefully, clinical trials at Liverpool Hospital will confirm that using this virtual reality experience may achieve comparable results to an in-person session. If the results of the clinical trials are favourable, patients are able to practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation at home or in a hospital environment without having to travel to a doctor.