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Adelaide, Feb 10: A virtual reality (VR) exercise session may be as effective as telehealth appointments at providing short-term pain relief for women diagnosed with endometriosis, according to the results of a new health study.
Endometriosis is a debilitating disease affecting approximately 10 per cent of women of reproductive age worldwide.
Pain management usually involves both pharmacological and surgical interventions but there is increasing interest in the benefits of exercise to reduce symptoms for many women.
With Australians facing hurdles in accessing immediate face-to-face exercise sessions, Exercise Physiologist and Senior Lecturer Dr Joyce Ramos in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, colleagues at the Flinders University Caring Futures Institute, SHAPE Research Centre, College of Medicine and Public Health, and Western Colorado University have assessed the benefits of self-managed exercises delivered through VR technology.
Twenty-two Australian women experiencing pelvic pain due to endometriosis were included in three groups for the study which consisted of a VR exercise group, telehealth exercise group and a control group.
The results show that increases in pain experienced by the virtual reality and telehealth participants may not be as severe as those in the control group, suggesting that both digital health interventions may reduce pelvic pain experienced by women diagnosed with endometriosis.
Flinders University Exercise Physiologist, Senior Lecturer, Dr Joyce Ramos, said this is the first randomised controlled study to compare the potential benefits of a single telehealth appointment and VR-delivered exercise session on pelvic pain in women with mild-to-moderate endometriosis.
‘Our study suggests that a single bout of a ‘self-managed’ VR-delivered exercise may be as effective as a single session of supervised telehealth-delivered exercise in providing immediate relief from pelvic pain associated with endometriosis,’ Dr Ramos added.
‘These findings are consistent with a previous study which demonstrated that a 10-to-20-minute VR session was able to alleviate pain in participants with chronic pain and endometriosis. The previous study results show the VR group had a 36.7 per cent reduction in global pain scores during the intervention period when compared to the control group.’
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