• CHOA using virtual reality to help young cancer patients

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    ATLANTA - Kids undergoing cancer treatments at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta have a new way to not only help pass the time during the treatments, but also help with pain and anxiety.

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    The Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder Centers at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has partnered with the American Cancer Society to provide children with virtual reality headsets as they undergo chemotherapy.

    In a study done by Samsung, it showed people who use VR devices during the procedures showed a reduction in pain and anxiety of up to 52%.

    “Virtual reality has the ability to transfer a patient to another place and allow them to temporarily forget about a medical procedure” said Ben Kaplan, senior director of digital products for the American Cancer Society.


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    The headsets include five games: Within, a dolphin experience; a beach relaxation experience; Header, a soccer game; RollercoasterX; and Smash Hit.

    Officials with the hospital said the headsets are great tools to help patients cope with nausea during the flushing of their ports and helping them remain calm during a port access.

    “The headset helps me forget what is around me and what is going on,” said 9-year-old Ryleigh, who is currently undergoing chemo treatments.

    Her mother, Staci, says the headsets have been a life saver.

    “I am so grateful for the headsets. Without them, she’d probably still be sitting in their crying. When she uses them, she’s in her own little virtual reality world,” Staci said.

    Child life specialist Jessica Westbrooks said teens and older school age children have loved getting to do VR experiences, and found the dolphin experience game has been the most effective in promoting relaxation and helping patients remain calm.

    “At the end of the day, getting to see our patients and their families feel cared for and loved and supported. To see them understanding what they’re going through and coping in positive ways, that makes a successful day,” Westbrooks said.

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