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The Future of Pain Management Strategy: Distraction and Mobile Devices

When it comes to technology and pain management strategy, options have traditionally been limited to electrotherapy devices, ultrasound and a few other tools. As clinical and consumer technology continue to intersect, however, we’re seeing much more commonplace, entertainment-based methods being implemented in the pain management space. One of the areas in which they hold the most potential is distraction.

Distraction and Pain Management

Distraction might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of pain management, but it’s a long-used technique in keeping patients comfortable, and it has the potential to fill in gaps where drugs are inadequate or have negative side effects.

Distraction falls under the non-pharmacologic branch of pain management and has been widely used in many healthcare settings. It’s most commonly applied in the management of pain in children, especially in cases when they have to tolerate painful medical procedures.

A study in the World Journal of Nursing Sciences, for example, found that when school-aged children were exposed to active distraction, their pain experiences were impacted, with technology-based solutions demonstrating particular effectiveness. According to the study discussion, “technological-based distraction has been demonstrated to have a positive impact on children’s pain tolerance during medical procedures.”

The study recommends that active distraction be employed for children who might need pain diversion during uncomfortable medical procedures, and specifically that playing units with interactive toys be established.

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The Impact on Adults

The benefits of pain diversion aren’t limited to children, however.

Southern Hills Hospital, one of Las Vegas’ premier hospitals, implemented a solution that incorporates AccendoWave technology along with Samsung Galaxy tablets. The solution not only addresses the challenge of measuring pain by collecting patient feedback, it also provides games, music, video clips and full-length movies via DIRECTV to keep patients occupied.

According to this case study, out of about 1,000 patients who used the technology, 90 percent responded positively, reporting that they enjoyed engaging with it. Additional positive results include:

  • 81 percent of patients indicating it improved their comfort level
  • 77 percent responding that it accurately understood their level of discomfort
  • 87 percent reporting that they enjoyed the content they were shown

After seeing the impact the initial implementation had on their pain diversion efforts, Southern Hills decided to roll the technology out to another hospital unit and work to further personalize the patient experience.

The Southern Hills implementation is a good example of the many ways diversion can be incorporated into a pain management strategy, especially when music, video, games, virtual reality and patient-engagement efforts are leveraged through tech solutions with which users are already familiar.

To learn more about pain management solutions in real-world scenarios, read about how they increase patient comfort here.

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Megan Williams

Megan Williams is a consultant and writer who specializes in healthcare technology. She has over a decade’s experience in hospital revenue cycle consulting and holds an MBA with a focus on international business, as well as a degree in hospital administration. She works with growing and established healthcare B2B companies in creating work that is in touch with the latest developments in healthcare, and maintains her work at LocutusHealth.com

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