Thanks to emerging virtual reality technology, patients at UMC Children’s Hospital now have opportunities to venture beyond their rooms and visit faraway lands, play immersive games and even swim alongside dolphins in a crystal-clear ocean. With the introduction of virtual reality systems at UMC, Nevada’s most sophisticated hospital continues to find new and innovative ways to provide the best possible health care experiences.
UMC Children’s Hospital recently introduced its VR Program to relieve pain, reduce anxiety and provide valuable entertainment for patients. Since the program’s introduction in 2018, hundreds of patients have explored virtual worlds from the comfort of their hospital beds. So far, the program has shown success in reducing the need for narcotic pain medication among pediatric patients who use the technology, said Dr. Meena Vohra, Medical Director of UMC Children’s Hospital.
“With the introduction of this new Virtual Reality Program, UMC Children’s Hospital has established itself as a statewide leader in non-pharmaceutical pain management for children,” she said.
The VR program was made possible by Spirit Halloween’s Spirit of Children Program, which raises funds for UMC Children’s Hospital each year at local Spirit Halloween stores.
As the first patient to use one of UMC’s VR systems, 17-year-old Brina said the technology had a meaningful impact on her hospital experience. Following a serious ATV accident that required surgical intervention, Brina was not able to walk for several days.
Unable to leave her hospital bed, Brina found comfort in UMC’s advanced VR Program, using the technology to visit the scenic streets of Paris and later venture into the vast plains of sub-Saharan Africa to witness giraffes in the wild. “I was fascinated,” she said. “It felt like I wasn’t in the hospital at all.”
During the VR therapy session, a nurse arrived to provide Brina’s regularly scheduled pain medication. “Brina told the nurse she didn’t need the medication right now and immediately resumed her VR experience,” said Shannon Case, a Child Life Specialist at UMC Children’s Hospital, recalling the success of her team’s first VR session.
Brina’s mother, Dina, said the VR Program helped her daughter following a traumatic injury. “It was an amazing feeling to see her having fun,” Dina said. “It helped her escape from what she was going through. She just loved it.”
The VR Program provides new levels of distraction therapy for burn patients during painful dressing changes. The technology has also helped children receiving stitches and other laceration repairs in the Pediatric Emergency Department at UMC Children’s Hospital.
Initially launched across UMC Children’s Hospital, the program will soon expand to UMC’s Labor & Delivery Department within the UMC Women & Newborn Care Center, providing valuable distraction therapy to women in labor.
“We look forward to the continued expansion of this innovative, patient-focused program,” Dr. Vohra said.
“Virtual reality will play a valuable role in our efforts to improve the experiences provided to patients across our hospital.”
Photo: Courtesy of UMC