A Virtual Reality Platform to Treat Lower Back Pain Is Now FDA-Approved

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

A Virtual Reality Platform to Treat Lower Back Pain Is Now FDA-Approved

For the first time, a virtual reality device received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to address pain.

Los Angeles-based therapeutic virtual reality startup AppliedVR's device to ease chronic lower back pain gained FDA approval this week.


The move opens the door to making VR a common solution for lower back pain, one of the most common chronic pain conditions in the U.S. that is also linked to deteriorating mental health and lack of productivity at work. Doctors can now use the technology to wean patients off high levels of opioids and insurance companies can subsidize the VR treatment, making it more accessible to low-income patients and broadening adoption of new technologies.

"You have to think about who pays for it. By going the FDA prescription route, that gives us a pathway to get this embedded into the rail systems of reimbursement in America," AppliedVR co-founder Matthew Stoudt said prior to the news.

The company's product, EaseVRx, follows a principle that has been studied for a long time: that pain is often less about the physical sensation and more often around the mental association of pain to stress, anxiety and isolation.

"Pain reduction is a crucial component of living with chronic lower back pain," said Christopher M. Loftus, acting director of the Office of Neurological and Physical Medicine Devices in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

"[The] authorization offers a treatment option for pain reduction that does not include opioid pain medications when used alongside other treatment methods for chronic lower back pain."

Using cognitive behavioral therapy and virtual reality, the offering takes patients with chronic lower back pain through an eight-week-long course comprising a series of modules that help them better cope with the never-ending (yet often debilitating) pain of chronic conditions.

"If they don't have access to a specialist or they don't have access to these integrated settings, you can actually bring these integrated settings to the home," Stoudt said.

Earlier this month, AppliedVR raised $36 million to push EaseVRx through the FDA pipeline, as well as create new VR offerings for a variety of pain and mental health indications. It was the first company to receive an FDA Breakthrough Device Designation as a VR treatment therapeutic for treatment-resistant fibromyalgia and chronic intractable lower back pain.

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Los Angeles’ Wage Growth Outpaced Inflation. Here’s What That Means for Tech Jobs

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Los Angeles’ Wage Growth Outpaced Inflation. Here’s What That Means for Tech Jobs

Inflation hit cities with tech-heavy workforces hard last year. Tech workers fortunate enough to avoid layoffs still found themselves confronting rising costs with little change in their pay.

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https://twitter.com/samsonamore
samsonamore@dot.la

Energy Shares Wants to Offer You a Chance to Invest in Green Energy Startups

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Energy Shares Wants to Offer You a Chance to Invest in Green Energy Startups
Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash

The Inflation Reduction Act contains almost $400 billion in funding for clean energy initiatives. There’s $250 billion for energy projects. $23 billion for transportation and EVs. $46 billion for environment. $21 billion for agriculture, and so on. With so much cash flowing into the sector, the possibilities for investment and growth are gigantic.

These investment opportunities, however, have typically been inaccessible for everyday retail investors until much later in a company’s development–after an IPO, usually. Meaning that the best returns are likely to be captured by banks and other institutions who have the capital and financing to invest large sums of money earlier in the process.

That’s where Pasadena-based Energy Shares comes in. The company wants to help democratize access to these investment opportunities and simultaneously give early-stage utility-scale energy projects another revenue stream.

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Why These Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Are Making LA Their Home

Aisha Counts
Aisha Counts is a business reporter covering the technology industry. She has written extensively about tech giants, emerging technologies, startups and venture capital. Before becoming a journalist she spent several years as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.
Why These Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Are Making LA Their Home
Joey Mota

Fleeing war and chasing new opportunities, more than a dozen Ukrainian entrepreneurs have landed in Los Angeles, finding an unexpected community in the city of dreams. These entrepreneurs have started companies that are collectively worth more than $300 million, in industries ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to audience monetization platforms to social networks.

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