Low back pain: those three little words represent one of the biggest reasons for a visit to a doctor’s office or missed days of work. Impacting people across different socioeconomic groups and age ranges, low back pain can be caused or complicated by injuries, accidents, arthritis, poor posture, obesity, psychological stress and a host of diseases. In the United States alone, chronic pain affects 100 million people, accounts for approximately $635 billion in healthcare costs and impacts more individuals than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined. It’s a complex condition that can last for weeks, months or even years, and it comes in many forms, including low back pain.
While pain affects each individual differently, everyone’s experience with chronic pain is influenced by biological, psychological and social factors—yet commonly used treatment options don’t address these factors in concert. At AppliedVR, we believe the comprehensive solution lies in virtual reality (VR)-based therapeutics—innovative digital tools changing the pain paradigm.
VR-based therapeutics hold the key to relief
VR technology has a reputation for being entertaining—perhaps transporting the user to an ancient city or a futuristic universe—but for more than 20 years, clinicians and researchers have been developing its use as a tool to address pain, post-traumatic stress, phobias and much more. The evidence is growing: VR provides a cost-effective, on-demand treatment option that can be delivered at home—expanding access to care at a time when the pandemic has severely restricted patients’ ability to see their doctors.
At AppliedVR, we’re committed to developing clinically validated, VR-based therapeutics that provide long-lasting relief. Our goal is to empower patients to manage and overcome their chronic pain in order to enjoy a better quality of life. As part of our ongoing testing, AppliedVR recently sponsored a clinical study that found home-based VR therapy can significantly reduce pain levels in people experiencing chronic low back pain. Patients treated with AppliedVR’s EaseVRx, the first VR-based prescription therapeutic to receive “Breakthrough Therapy Designation” by the FDA, reported improved mood, reduced stress and less pain interference during activity.
The double-blinded study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) found that AppliedVR’s EaseVRx device produced “clinically meaningful” improvement in multiple pain outcomes. It also earned high participant satisfaction and engagement ratings. Conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the study analyzed data from 179 individuals across 40 U.S. states who reported experiencing chronic low back pain for at least six months. Before receiving the treatment, patients were asked to rate pain intensity and pain interference with activity, sleep, mood and stress. Immediately following the 8-week treatment, patients were asked to provide the same 5 pain ratings. Relative to the pre-treatment ratings, end of treatment ratings revealed an average pain reduction for the EaseVRx group of:
- 42.8% reduction in pain intensity;
- 51.6% reduction in activity interference;
- 54% reduction in sleep interference;
- 55.7% reduction in mood interference; and
- 59.9% reduction in stress interference.
These improvements in pain and related symptoms were long-lasting and not limited to when patients wore EaseVRx headsets.
So how does EaseVRx work?
Accessible, time-efficient and easy to use, EaseVRx offers an immersive technology that can simultaneously engage multiple pain centers in the brain. Using the device’s hands-free headset or an optional controller, patients self-administer EaseVRx in the comfort of their homes, at any time, without restrictions tied to a healthcare professional’s schedule. Over the course of an eight-week, remote-care program, patients learn how to recognize and adjust cognitive, emotional and physical responses to chronic pain in once-a-day sessions lasting several minutes.
Designed in partnership with world-renowned Stanford pain psychologist Beth Darnall, the EaseVRx program explores different core themes every week, including attention control, relaxation, sleep, body/mind awareness, acceptance and mindfulness. Each theme explores content inspired by various evidence-based behavioral treatments for pain, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), compassion training and pain neuroscience education.
Bringing VRx to Patients
AppliedVR is in the process of bringing the EaseVRx device to market, particularly for the Medicare/Medicaid population. As of this article’s posting date, EaseVRx is an investigational device limited by federal law for investigational use. AppliedVR is currently seeking market authorization from the FDA.
When the product is officially launched, EaseVRx will be 100% reimbursed via Medicare and Medicare Advantage coverage. The reimbursement will be categorized as DME (Durable Medical Equipment). Once ordered, each EaseVRx unit will be shipped directly to the patient’s home within 24 hours from a local DME supplier. Out-of-pocket costs for commercial patients will be minimized via a manufacturer-sponsored patient assistance program. For older patients on a fixed income, an attainable low monthly cost will be spread out to facilitate access.
As the JMIR study demonstrates, there is very promising potential for EaseVRx to transform how patients manage and overcome chronic pain. The AppliedVR team is dedicated to delivering the full potential of this digital therapeutic breakthrough. If you have questions about our company or EaseVRx, please reach out to us.
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