Many individuals worldwide suffer from some form of drug addiction or substance use disorder (SUD). Due to the cyclical nature of withdrawal and relapses, eg. alcohol use disorder (AUD), the difficulty rooted in managing such brain diseases can dishearten those who most want to cease drug misuse and lead healthier lives. Virtual reality methods can also have a large impact on those seeking treatment and play a significant role in countering their feelings of defeatism and self-doubt. By rejecting their addiction repeatedly in a virtual scenario, individuals foster the confidence to do so in the real world and maintain that belief in their own abilities across other treatment options.

Benefits of using VR for Addiction Treatment

Scholars at the  Virtual Reality Clinical Research Lab at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work are pioneers of using VR technology for treatment purposes. The researchers have achieved success using virtual reality therapy to help smokers refuse the temptation of cigarettes.


The benefits of virtual reality can apply no matter what stage of the process they are in.

1. Detoxification

To help during the  process of detoxifying from drug addiction , virtual reality techniques can be used to distract the individual from the discomfort of withdrawal and detox. While immersed in this alternate reality, many find it easier to cope with their symptoms and stay committed to their sobriety.

2. Fighting Cravings

VR is an active experience, with the user diving completely into a different reality. Specific sounds, smells, situations, and visual stimuli play a vital role in their desire to use drugs, and by engaging regularly with these specific triggers, addicts can practice overcoming them through repeat exposure.

3. Learning to say No.

With virtual reality, clients can practice these scenarios over and over again without having to worry about what happens if they cannot say no. Recovery is a daily commitment, but it can be easier to do if you know you have succeeded in the past. By saying successfully no to addiction in a virtual setting, addicts can feel more confident saying no once they leave treatment.

4. Personalized Therapy

As much as VR can help addicts fight off outside triggers, it can also help therapists identify the internal contributions fostering an addiction. Self-doubt, childhood trauma, a family history of addiction, and countless other factors could be building a roadblock to recovery. By exploring these scenarios customized therapies can be designed to determine the root cause of addiction.

5. Relaxation

Soothing scenes, when combined with relaxing music, can help reduce agitation, stress, paranoia, and anger and provide a quiet place for self-reflection. This technology can also provide an escape if cravings become overwhelming.


Being sick and hospitalized can actually be a terrifying, if not utterly traumatic, experience for a child. Nobody likes being in a hospital, and children are no exception. Despite the extra effort that the staff in a pediatric ward puts in and the specially designed clinical spaces, it is often hard to make a child forget that they are in a hospital. Children are conscious of the fact that their normal life has been interrupted abruptly and that they are missing out on big events and family life. They may even begin to be comprehensive about pain, immobility, separation from loved ones, loss of control, and disruption. If a child is to receive an injection, for example, or have the dressing changed on a wound, they may put on a headset to focus their attention away from the painful stimulus and engage in this fun activity instead.

Virtual Reality has an Important Role to Play

With regards to the medical applications of VR, pediatrics is an area that offers tremendous opportunity . As imaginative and inquisitive as children are, the immersive quality of VR is more likely to keep them spellbound than an adult. Children can explore coral reefs, or even walk with dinosaurs from the confines of their hospital beds. They can also feel like they are participating in their favorite activities again or seeing their favorite pet at play. Family events can be filmed in 360 ° and then viewed through VR, so children can have a ‘real’ feel of being part of the event when compared with just looking at photos or videos. These possibilities make VR a very important tool, not only to improve a child’s quality of stay in the hospital but also to  augment the healing process .

VR helps Parents too

A child’s illness can be a testing time for parents too, and for that matter the whole family. Families are psychologically vulnerable after the hospitalization of a child. The associated stress can manifest as symptoms of depression and anxiety. In extreme cases, parents can develop post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), which can in turn negatively impact their ability  to care for the child. Therefore, relieving distress in parents is an important healthcare objective as well.

SyncVR Medical builds on these concepts to bring an innovative VR solution for children in hospitals. The SyncVR Relax & Distract application library contains relaxation exercises, cognitive stimulating games and videos. This application comes with a tablet on which you can spectate what a patient is seeing in the VR headset.


Virtual reality (VR) technology has emerged as a promising tool for studying and rehabilitating gait and balance impairments in people with Parkinson disease (PD) as it allows users to be engaged in an enriched and highly individualized complex environment. Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that is traditionally managed by a combination of medication and physical therapy treatment. Within VR, augmented feedback about a person with Parkinson’s performance enables repetitive practice of motor tasks, thus stimulating both motor and cognitive processes simultaneously. VR offers patients with neurological deficits , such as Parkinson’s, an opportunity to develop new motor strategies, or to relearn motor abilities that were lost due to their injury or disease processes.

VR can simulate situations that would be too dangerous or cumbersome to perform in a clinical setting . For example, having fall-prone people with PD perform gait and balance tasks on raised platforms to elicit anxiety is too dangerous, but immersive VR technology provides the opportunity to induce similar fear responses while participants remain safely on the ground. Additionally, other VR technologies focus on improving more broad symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as being able to increase stride length and improve balance, in safe, controlled environments.

The rationale behind using VR systems lies in providing augmented visual and auditory feedback to gradually challenge postural control and balance during a task. This strategy bypasses the deficient motor generation system present in people with Parkinson’s, thus improving their motor response. VR offers opportunities to safely identify an individual’s specific triggers and balance deficits, thus creating personalized training targets


Virtual reality is emerging as a novel and cost effective non-pharmacologic therapy for pain, and there is growing interest to use VR in the acute hospital setting. Traditionally, opioid was the key for pain reliving and while it was very effective it also had many side-effects associated with it like nausea, dizziness & sedation among others. These adverse prolong the duration of patient’s stay in the hospital, increased cost of healthcare and a significant decrease in patient’s satisfaction.

Therefore, it has now become vital to search for non-pharmacologic treatments that contribute to the efficacy of overall pain management. This is where virtual reality comes into play, by creating a computer-generated simulation which can be explored and interacted by the users. In a recent study it was found that 65% of hospitalized patients receiving a VR experience achieved a clinically significant pain response vs. 40% of controls watching a relaxation video. VR can complement a lower dose of pain medication or will eliminate the need for medicine altogether for some patients, which will reduce the expenditure on opioids and other pain killing mechanisms.

The SyncVR-Relax & Distract explore virtual reality (VR) as a distraction intervention during treatment processes. Our systems not only cut the dependence of patients on pain reliving medications but are also affordable, lightweight, smaller and comfortable. Many use a smartphone for the display and hardware, which track the patients movements to analyze their improvement while giving the caregiver total control over what their patients see.

VR applications can teach people to manage their pain in the real world. It can train and convince a person that they have governance over their body and their experience. It demonstrates that the brain’s response to injuries can be manipulated in a positive way.