Brazilian Journal of Pain
Brazilian Journal of Pain
Original Article

Comparison of the effect of two virtual reality stimuli on pressure pain sensitivity and autonomic response

Comparação do efeito de dois estímulos de realidade virtual na sensibilidade de dor a pressão e na resposta autonômica

Thayná Caetano Alves Silva; Pamela Martin Bandeira; Amanda Dutra da Silva Ranzatto; Ney Armando Meziat-Filho; Leandro Alberto Calazans Nogueira; Orlando Fernandes Júnior; Felipe José Jandre dos Reis

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Virtual reality can have a modulatory action on pain and the autonomic nervous system. This study sought to verify the effect of two different VR stimuli on the pressure pain threshold and heart rate variability.

METHODS: Healthy volunteers were randomized into two groups of virtual reality, nature and control. The pressure pain threshold was measured pre and post stimulus and heart rate variability measurements were collected pre, during and after virtual reality stimuli. The exploratory data analysis was performed. The t test was used to compare pressure pain threshold. For the differences in heart rate variability measurements, the linear mixed model was used. The level of significance adopted was 95%.

RESULTS: The virtual reality nature group was composed of 19 participants with mean age of 22.7±4.72 years and the control virtual reality group was composed of 22 participants with mean age of 21.13±2.42 years. The virtual reality nature group showed an increase in the pressure pain threshold after virtual reality and the mean difference was -0.41 [CI (95%)= -0.74 to -0.07; p=0.01]. There was no difference in heart rate variability parameters measured during and after virtual reality stimulation.

CONCLUSION: The group that was exposed to a virtual reality stimulus with scenes from nature showed an increase in the pressure pain threshold. There was no difference in heart rate variability between groups.


Autonomic nervous system, Expression emotion, Heart rate, Virtual reality


JUSTIFICATIVA E OBJETIVOS: A realidade virtual pode ter ação modulatória sobre a dor e o sistema nervoso autônomo. O objetivo deste estudo foi verificar o efeito de dois estímulos diferentes de realidade virtual sobre o limiar de dor a pressão e a variabilidade da frequência cardíaca.

MÉTODOS: Os voluntários sadios foram randomizados para dois grupos de realidade virtual, natureza e controle. Foram coletadas as medidas do limiar de dor a pressão pré e pós-estímulo e as medidas da variabilidade da frequência cardíaca pré, durante e após o estímulo de realidade virtual. Foi realizada a análise exploratória dos dados. O teste t foi utilizado para comparar o limiar de dor a pressão. Para as diferenças nas medidas da variabilidade da frequência cardíaca utilizou-se o modelo linear misto. O nível de significância adotado foi de 95%.

RESULTADOS: O grupo realidade virtual natureza foi composto por 19 participantes com média de idade de 22,7±4,72 anos e o grupo realidade virtual controle foi composto por 22 participantes com média de idade de 21,13±2,42 anos. O grupo realidade virtual natureza apresentou um aumento do limiar de dor a pressão após realidade virtual e a diferença entre as médias foi de -0,41 [IC (95%)=-0,74 a -0,07; p=0,01]. Não houve diferença para os parâmetros da variabilidade da frequência cardíaca mensurados durante e após o estímulo de realidade virtual.

CONCLUSÃO: O grupo que foi exposto a um estímulo de realidade virtual com cenas da natureza apresentou um aumento do limiar de dor. Não foram observadas diferenças na variabilidade da frequência cardíaca entre os grupos.


Emoções manifestas, Frequência cardíaca, Realidade virtual, Sistema nervoso autônomo


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