Using VR in hospitals instead of anaesthetic to reduce pain in children

Using VR in hospitals instead of anaesthetic to reduce pain in children
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The use of Virtual Reality (VR) in hospitals in place of general anaesthetics to alleviate pain for young patients is being trialled in hundreds of locations.

The groundbreaking use of VR in hospitals enables paediatricians and healthcare facilities to use the headsets as a procedural tool for critically ill young patients, primarily to reduce anxiety during mild to moderately painful procedures.

The use of the Virtual Reality headsets in place of anaesthetics is being trialled at Children’s Hospital Colorado and hundreds of partner hospitals.

Using VR to reduce pain

By using VR as a calming distraction, several patients have been able to undergo procedures whilst awake, cutting down lengthy recovery times, and reducing the need for medication.

Joe Albietz, MD, Medical Director at Child Life, Children’s Hospital Colorado, commented: “Due to the distressing nature of treatments such as a lumbar puncture, where a needle is used to withdraw spinal fluid and sometimes administer medication, our patients often receive the procedure under general anaesthetic.

“Virtual Reality can be used in place of general anaesthesia to help tolerate pain, and in fact, it is having a profound impact on the quality of life of our hospitalised children. We are seeing children who used to require general anaesthesia, now able to be fully awake with minimal medications.”

Transforming healthcare with technology

A global survey showed that while the majority of respondents feel technology can help play a role in addressing worldwide challenges such as certain healthcare issues, they say that promise is yet to be fulfilled.

More than two thirds of respondents said that technology and smart devices are currently having a positive impact on their abilities to live healthier lifestyles. Additionally, only half of people globally say they think technology has had a positive impact on society by improving aspects of the healthcare space.

Adam Garone, CEO, Starlight Children’s Foundation, which is trialling the VR headsets commented: “We believe happy children heal faster, and the astounding impact of Starlight’s Virtual Reality program at Children’s Hospital Colorado affirms our belief in the transformative power of technology to positively affect a child’s experience in the hospital.

“We’re extremely grateful to all parties for their generous support in working alongside us to develop this program and in ensuring that we can continue to deliver it at such a large scale to thousands of children at hundreds of hospitals.”

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