From: Stanford University
Published September 15, 2017 12:46 PM

Virtual reality alleviates pain, anxiety for pediatric patients

As patients at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford undergo routine medical procedures, they are being whisked away to swim under the sea, zap flying cheeseburgers in outer space, catch basketballs using their heads and fly on paper airplanes through the sky, thanks to virtual-reality technology, which is being implemented throughout the hospital to help ease patients’ feelings of pain and anxiety.

Packard Children’s is one of the first hospitals in the country to begin implementing distraction-based VR therapy within every patient unit.

“Many kids associate the hospital with things they deem stressful and scary,” said pediatric anesthesiologist Sam Rodriguez, MD, co-founder of Packard Children’s Childhood Anxiety Reduction through Innovation and Technology, or CHARIOT, program, which is leading the VR rollout. “We are finding that the ability to distract these patients with fully immersive, fun and relaxing sensory environments can have a significant impact on the anxiety and pain that they experience during minor procedures, dressing changes and other medical treatments.”

In February, 9-year-old Blaine Baxter suffered a severe injury to his arm while racing a go-kart and had to undergo daily, painful dressing changes. “He would immediately start crying and scream out of fear, and had to be sedated before doctors could approach his arm,” explained Blaine’s mother, Tamara Baxter. “He was so riddled with anxiety after everything he had been and was going through. VR was a game changer for Blaine. As soon as he put the goggles on, sedation was no longer needed, and during his dressing changes we went from hearing pain-stricken screams to ‘Wow, I’m under the sea looking at sea snakes. This is so cool. You have to see this!’”

Read more at Stanford University

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