Summary: A year ago, the hospital started using VR headsets to entertain and educate its young patients; now, it has found it could also distract them away from painful operations.
Original author and publication date: Daphne Leprince-Ringuet – November 11, 2019
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Virtual reality is now a successful element in treatment of young patients. The next step will be, of course, holographic doctors.
From the article:
At the Children’s Hospital in Colorado, doctors are using virtual reality, rather than general anaesthetics, to help young patients’ to get through painful procedures.
Lenovo said by using VR as a calming distraction, several patients have been able to undergo mild to moderately painful treatments whilst awake, cutting down lengthy recovery times, and reducing the need for medication.
“The human brain has limited bandwidth for what it can pay attention to,” said Joe Albietz, medical director at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “The more it is engaged in a VR experience, the less it can perceive the pain signals coming through.”
“If it’s not paying attention to those pain signals, they might as well not exist.”
Launched last year, the VR program is dubbed “Starlight Xperience” and is the result of a three-way partnership between Lenovo, app management company SOTI, and the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
The Mirage Solo is the only standalone headset that supports Google’s Daydream platform, which Starlight Xperience runs on.
The technology is being used so that when children face an invasive procedures like endoscopy, only a local anaesthetic was required. The headset was also worn during lumbar puncture, during which a thin needle is inserted between the bones in the lower spine, or while dressing damaged limbs, sometimes with no additional anaesthetic needed at all.
“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,” said Albietz.