Virtual Reality Used For Fun, Therapy and Stress Reduction at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare

September 17, 2018 06:22 PM

"I see a double-decker bus!" said 7-year-old, Grady Sommer.


Sommer has spent the past six weeks recovering from spine surgery at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. But at the moment, he is exploring London through a virtual reality headset.

"I can't go off campus, but I kind of thought I was in London," he said.

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For the past year, VR headsets have been taking young patients on safari, underwater, overseas and inside video games. It serves as an escape from pain, anxiety or from simply being in the hospital.

Clinical Scientist Chantel Barney, Ph.D. says the devices reduce anxiety and fear in patients. They are using VR for everything from removing casts, to treating wounds, to drawing blood, to surgery prep and recovery.

"It's so much more than just fun," Barney said.

"We've had so many cases where it's reduced the need for medications, even reduce the need to bring patients to the operating room and put them to sleep. It enables them to get through minor procedures without so much stress and anxiety," she said.

The pilot program started with just two VR sets. It's now expanded to 21.


Ellen Galles

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