Pure purr virtual reality technology: measuring heart rate variability and anxiety levels in healthy volunteers affected by moderate stress
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Doctor Sam Medical Network, Ukraine
Planexta, California, USA
Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology, National Academy of Sciences (NAS) of Ukraine, Ukraine
Pharmaxi LLC, Ukraine
Submission date: 2019-05-24
Final revision date: 2019-09-19
Acceptance date: 2019-10-15
Online publication date: 2020-02-24
Traditional approaches to stress management are difficult to learn and to implicate in daily life. Emerging technologies like virtual reality (VR) have become a target of extensive study for recreational and medical purposes. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a crucial role in stress response, post-stress relaxation, and recovery. This study aimed to assess the effect of modified VR intervention on short-term heart rate variability (HRV) and perceived anxiety levels in healthy volunteers affected by moderate stress. The stressors included mental arithmetic tasks. The study involved healthy adults, of both sexes, aged 20 to 60 years, without history of cardiovascular diseases, essential abnormalities on ECG, and with normal or moderate level of situational anxiety. The VR gadgets used in the study were commercially available BoboVR X1 headsets, one with modification for medical applications (Pure Purr technology) and one with none (sham technology). The investigational (Pure Purr) headset with an audio-visual sequence was modified by adding a binaural effect and was synchronised with the tract of respiratory movements and the frequency of heart rate. To track changes in the ANS, participants underwent both electrocardiography (ECG) and measurement of HRV. The findings showed a significant increase in parasympathetic activity after five-minute exposure to the investigational device compared to stress, as shown by high-frequency HRV (499.8 ms2 and 340.5 ms2, p < 0.001). RMSSD for a modified headset was higher (p = 0.02) compared to a sham headset with no modifications (RMSSD difference of 12.3% [2.6% to 23.1%]). The LF/HF ratio, however, was lower (difference of 14.5% [2.6% to 23.1%], p = 0.04). These findings suggest that a medical device with pre-installed Pure Purr software had a significant effect on the recovery of the ANS in healthy volunteers affected by moderate stress.