ProRehab patient wears virtual reality mask during session to help with pain

Patient Mollie Weisberg completed physical therapy with virtual reality technology to help with chronic pain. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville rehabilitation facility is hoping to combat the opioid epidemic with virtual reality technology.

The pilot program started in September at ProRehab.

Mollie Weisberg participated in the therapy program after she developed unexplainable pain from a traumatic childbirth that nearly killed her.

“I felt really brittle, really stiff and, in particular, my hands and feet, the metatarsals, they all felt like the bones were breaking whenever I started moving,” Weisberg said.

Picking up her newborn was nearly impossible.

“It was excruciatingly painful,” she said.

Blood tests didn't show anything was wrong, and her doctors were puzzled. As a last resort to cope with the pain, she tried virtual reality technology therapy, because she didn't like the way pain pills made her feel.

“I was in a fog all day," she said. "I really didn't like the way I felt taking pain pills. Like how am I going to do this the rest of my life?”

Dr. Eric McElroy, a physical therapist at ProRehab, said part of the therapy includes using virtual reality technology.

“There's a correlation in the rise of chronic pain and the rise in opioid use. Early intervention of physical therapy is the best thing to help curb opioid use," he said. “It puts them in a place where they have no distractions, so that enables them to focus on the mindfulness training, the breathing techniques, the things that are going to help decrease their pain."

Weisberg completed her sessions and went from being on the high end of the pain scale to the low end.

“I will have pain still occasionally, but I know the process to get rid of it," she said. "It feels like a superpower, really."

And she uses the techniques she learned whenever the pain starts to rise. At a time when opioid use is at an all-time high, she hopes her story can help others.

“You don't have to live in pain. You just really don't,” Weisberg said. “Maybe try something like this. Maybe a different approach will help you lot.”

If you are dealing with pain and would like to be part of this program or learn more about it, call ProRehab at 888-591-8280.

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