Chemotherapy treatment is an arduous process, with a great number of painful and difficult side affects. Samsung and Start VR are attempting to make the process a little easier by introducing virtual reality (VR) to allow patients to escape the hospital environment.
The project aims to use VR to help ease psychological stress and provide a form of ‘distraction therapy’ for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Patients at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse were provided with a Samsung Gear VR headset and the option to select an experience either from the Gear VR store, or from Start VR’s specialised catalogue.
The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is one of two comprehensive cancer treatment centres in Australia. It is also one of Austalia’s biggest cancer clinical trial centres and sees over 40,000 patients a year for both public and privately funded treatment.
The VR experiences on offer ranged from transporting patients to a relaxing travel destination such as a sunny beach, or a high-adrenaline skydiving experience to taking a soothing boat ride through Sydney Harbour, or petting koalas at a zoo.
The project was devised by Start VR Head of Content Martin Taylor, who collaborated with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and Samsung Australia to bring the project to fruition. Taylor had this to say: “Our main goal is to create compelling virtual reality content and initiatives that make a positive impact on the lives of consumers. We wanted to determine if VR had the potential to change people’s outlook on their current environment and we felt that a healthcare setting, where people sit and wait for periods of time, worried about unknown outcomes would be the right place to start. Though after months of theory and planning, the true reward was meeting these incredible patients and seeing them experience instant joy through the power of VR.”
Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Complementary Therapy Director Michael Marthick adds: “Allowing patients to escape the experience of chemotherapy gives them a bit of space to forget what’s going on. In settings such as before surgery, patients are even more anxious. This gives them a distraction and allows them to keep their spirits up. Wellness isn’t just about the physical side of things, it’s also about mental wellbeing.”
Use of VR in healthcare is a growing area. As always, VRFocus will keep you up to date on developments in this area.