A hospital in Santa Rosa is employing a pioneering pain-management tool that involves virtual reality headsets.
Inspired by ways that VR viewing has been used for anxiety management among veterans, an official at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital decided to use the technology for pediatric and gynecology patients, in order to distract patients from pain and lower anxiety.
The headsets and the software come via LA-based appliedVR, which develops systems specifically for healthcare applications. Santa Rosa Memorial is the only hospital in the Bay Area and one of only three in California that's begun using the technology, as the Press-Democrat reports.
Santa Rosa hospital among 1st in California to use virtual reality for pain management https://t.co/yLDddH6NF7— The Press Democrat (@NorthBayNews) August 12, 2019
Ricci Ros, the hospital's director of women and children’s services, tells the paper that she wants the facility to be thought of as one that "thinks outside the box."
Examples of the headsets in use included distracting a 4-year-old girl while her vitals were being checked prior to being treated for a dog bite — she was looking at immersive images of dolphins swimming, and, as she said, "a Nemo fish."
Research has shown that VR can lead to a 25-percent reduction in reporting of pain, and a 30-percent reduction in stress levels. Some experts believe it could be a key to reducing the use of pain medication for women in labor, and a reduction of opioid use in hospital settings.
The VR videos are often set in nature. Per the Press-Democrat:
A team of appliedVR engineers create new visualizations and virtual experiences to accompany almost every possible medical situation. For example, there’s a bear blast video game for patients getting a cast, images of Iceland for catheter placements and a farm sanctuary tour for those getting skin grafts, among dozens of others.
So, in a few years, when you go into an ER, you may see a lot of people zoned out with those Oculus things on their faces.