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Tech-Spun Remedy

Hunter Hoffman, director of the University of Washington’s Virtual Reality Research Center, has a new take on how to deal with pain

smithsonian.com

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Hunter Hoffman, director of the University of Washington’s Virtual Reality Research Center, has a new take on how to deal with pain. He’s created SnowWorld, an innovative virtual reality program that distracts burn victims during painful wound care procedures with a glacial world of snowmen waiting to be pegged with snowballs. We caught up with Hoffman—one of the 87 designers in the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum’s Design Life Now exhibition—before his VR headset moves to the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston on January 26.

Why did you choose to focus on burn patients?

Wound care of burn patients is one of the most painful procedures in medicine. So if you can get something to work with those patients, chances are good that it will work for other medical procedures. Patients report re-experiencing their injuries when getting their wound care so it’s almost like getting burned again when getting bandages changed.
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