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Virtual Reality in Theater and Medicine

Ugly Lies the Bone: A Play About Virtual Reality Pain Management

Industry, Virtual Reality

Over the past 18 to 24 months, we have experienced a virtual reality revolution. We’ve seen the technology grow and come to life and we’ve seen the technology take form in a vast number of industries and applications, some less expected than others. Today marks an especially exciting day in the timeline of the virtual reality revolution as the play Ugly Lies the Bone premiers at its opening night at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. What does this play have to do with VR and why should you be interested? Well, it actually has A LOT to do with virtual reality and you should be very interested.

The Concept

man in vr headset

Ugly Lies the Bone, written by Lindsey Ferrentino, was inspired by true life experiences of veterans who have suffered traumatic injuries in wartime and have turned to virtual reality pain management programs to treat their physical and emotional wounds. The story follows newly discharged soldier, Jess, who has returned to her Florida home with vivid memories of her three tours in Afghanistan and painful burns that have left her scarred, both physically and emotionally. To cope with the struggle of adapting to civilian life, Jess uses a virtual reality video game therapy program, “COOL!” created by DeepStream VR and powered by AVADirect, she builds a breathtaking new world where she can escape her pain.

Over the past months the play has gained serious traction in the medical VR industry. Production partners include DeepStream VR, AVADirect Custom Computers, Emory Healthcare Veterans Program/Emory Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program, Team Red White and Blue and NVIDIA.


After each performance through October 9th, demos of DeepStream’s “COOL!” virtual reality program will be held in the theater lobby with VR desktops provided by AVADirect. Attendees, including doctors, VR enthusiasts, and war veterans will get to experience virtual reality in a medical application and learn how the program works. Post-show discussions will also be held after each show as clinical practitioners and psychiatrists from Emory Trauma and Anxiety Program/Emory Veterans Program and veterans familiar with the program discuss real-world context to the audience.

Medical Virtual Reality with DeepStream VR

DeepStream VR, based out of San Francisco and Seattle, has been considered pioneers in the VR healthcare industry for over 20 years. Their technology uses VR’s high bandwidth channel to the brain and senses to boost your physical and mental health. Ugly Lies the Bone incorporates the program “COOL!” which DeepStream says “brings welcome relief from the pain and stress of modern life”. The program is a fun, interactive journey through a fully immersive VR fantasy landscape populated with playful otters and mysterious flames. “COOL!” and other similar VR experiences DeepStream has created are currently being used in a number of leading hospitals, and that number continues to grow.

A recent independent study by Dr. Ted Jones’s care team at Pain Consultants of East Tennessee, Knoxville, recently achieved impressive results in a study using “COOL!” with neuropathic pain patients. Jones’ study reported:

  • pain reductions of 60-70% during the VR treatment
  • 30-50% immediately after treatment
  • This effect lasted up to 48 hours after treatment
  • No patients reported any dizziness, headache or nausea
Dr. Ted Jones

Goldman Sachs predicts the total revenue of the VR industry to hit $95 billion by 2025m with $5 billion of that coming from medical applications. DeepStream VR is actively looking to push the boundaries of VR and potentially reshape the way we look at the medical industry, enabling doctors to abandon the “one-pill-fits-all approach”.


Just a millennial writing about a tech and stuff. Cheers.

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