Virtual Reality Transforms Hospital Stay for Kids


STANFORD, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Understandably, most kids who have to be in a hospital wish they were anywhere else. But there’s one hospital they may actually enjoy. Patients there can catch basketballs, fish, or zap hamburgers in space. All courtesy of virtual reality.

Brayden Eidenshink knew the routine of a hospital. He’s been in and out of them for much of his young life. Brayden got a new heart. It wasn’t easy but there’s one bright spot to ease the pain and worry … virtual reality.

Brenda Eidenshink, Brayden’s Mom shared, “It distracts him from what they’re doing around him. He would put the goggles on and they’d numb him up and then the IV’s done. It helped ease his worry of the pain.”

They call it ‘the Chariot Program.’

“It stands for childhood, anxiety reduction through innovation and technology.  It’s a program where we utilize traditional technologies such as tablets, mobile, virtual reality headsets,” said Thomas Caruso, MD, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

Sam Rodriguez, MD, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford stated, “We have many cases where we’re able to decrease the amount of sedatives, pain medication and even anesthesia.”

The program has videos to aid with anesthesia, screens that play entertainment during pre-op, and virtual reality games. Brayden was a fan of space pups and space burgers.

“It’s hard to take them off because they’re so addicting,” Brayden laughed.

“They have to be involved. They have to move their body. They have to move their head to play the game.  So, they’re so focused on that that they kind of forget what’s actually happening,” said Molly Pearson, Child Life Specialist, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

Keenan Espiritu who’s been a patient at the hospital for more than two years also appreciates the escape.

“It helps me forget like I’m in the hospital. It feels like I’m somewhere else,” Keenan shared with Ivanhoe.

“It can completely transform their experience here,” added Dr. Caruso.

The technology developed by the Chariot Program is being used throughout Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford as well as at other hospitals nationwide. We are sorry to report that young Brayden died from heart transplant complications after this story was finished.

Contributors to this news report include: Jennifer Winter, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Rusty Reed, Videographer.

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BACKGROUND: Virtual reality, also referred to as VR is a technology that uses a headset to generate images and sounds and other cues that help to make the user believe they really are in an imaginary environment. A person using a virtual reality headset is able to move their head and see the artificial world as if it was real. Virtual reality worlds can be created to seem real or science fiction. The term virtual reality was first used in a book published in 1938, and then in 1982 in a science fiction book. Virtual reality began in the 1960s when a head mounted display was created but it took many years before the consumer market began to be truly interested in it. It wasn’t until the 2010s that a virtual reality device truly peaked consumer interest. Virtual reality is being used in health care. It allows medical students to practice dangerous procedures and gain experience without actually operating on a human. It can also help surgeons determine the best point of entry for surgeries.


VIRTUAL REALITY IN THE HEALTH INDUSTRY: Health care is seeing some of the most direct and imminent gains of virtual reality. One of the key implementations of virtual reality in the medical field is that it will allow doctors and medical professionals to practice procedures that they don’t regularly have access to in the office. There are a variety of different mobile virtual reality devices that are able to handle these exercises. These devices will dramatically change the way in which hospitals and health care facilities train their nurses, doctors, and medical personnel. Virtual reality will soon be guiding our learning in many ways. From teaching us new skills, to helping us overcome medical ailments, virtual reality will play a key role in the deployment and utilization of many different health related procedures. Its interactive nature allows staff to participate in rather than observe procedures. When a person is engaged in an activity, their behavior effects their memory far more than if they were merely observing an activity. Virtual reality allows doctors and medical professionals to simulate surgery and other intensive procedures. In doing so, the technology is able to strengthen the skill sets of the user at lower costs than before. Using new VR-imbedded technologies, surgeons receive both physical and visual feedback when going through the motions of a procedure.


VIRTUAL REALITY CONTINUES TO TRANSFORM MEDICAL CARE: “VR has reached a tipping point in medicine,” said Dr. Ajit Sachdeva, Director of Education with the American College of Surgeons. Psychologists have found VR to be good for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. And stroke doctors, pain specialists, surgeons, and other medical practitioners have found their own uses for VR. In some cases, medical VR involves the familiar headsets. In others, 3D glasses and special video screens give a VR-like experience. The use of VR and 3D visualization technology in medicine isn’t brand new. Medical researchers have been exploring ways to create 3D models of patients’ internal organs using VR since the 1990’s. But advances in computing power have made simulated images much more realistic and much faster to create. “X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans can now be turned into high-resolution 3D images in under a minute,” said Sergio Agirre, chief technology officer of EchoPixel, a Mountain View, California firm whose visualization software is being used in hospitals across the U.S. “Twenty years ago, it would probably take them a week to be able to do that,” continued Agirre.


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