Get your goggles on! Augmented and virtual reality finally taking off, from alleviating child pain to astronaut mental health

Augmented and virtual reality (AR, VR) back at last.  A few years ago, the future of everything from rehabilitation to PTSD was going to be headsets/goggles and captivating programming. Alas, it went sideways. Now a revival is taking place:

  • The Smileyscope VR platform from Australia recently received the very first Class II FDA clearance for acute pain and anxiety reduction via VR. In September, they received clearance for temporary relief of acute anxiety associated with needle procedures. Using what they term “virtual reality neuromodulation”. their Procedural Choreography technique uses positive virtual stimuli and substitution–for example, replacing a negative real-world stimuli such as a needle, replacing it with a positive virtual stimuli such as a friendly fish. According to their studies submitted for the Class II filing, self-rated pain in children was reduced up to 60% and anxiety of up to 40%. It also achieved reductions of up to 75% in caregiver distress and reduced the use of physical restraints up to 48%. Smileyscope is working with about 50 US hospitals and the NHS. Globally it has been used to reduce pain and anxiety for other procedures such as administering vaccines, bloodwork, wound dressings, anesthetic inductions, cast applications/removals, and medical imaging, thus avoiding sedation especially in children. Smileyscope has partnered with over 50 US hospitals to implement the technology.     Release, Healthcare IT News
  • VR in senior care was explored in a study from Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. The survey of 245 older adults and 39 caregivers in 16 senior care communities across 10 states was highly positive about VR use:
    • 81% of surveyed caregivers reported they enjoyed interacting with residents more using VR than other activities.
    • 94.9% said that using VR was “moderately to extremely beneficial to their relationship” with the patient, while 89.5% of senior care residents reported the same in their relationships with the staff.
    • 74.2% of the caregivers reported that the residents’ moods were improved, while 77.9% of the residents reported feeling more positive.
    • 57.5% of older adults reported feeling less isolated from the outside world after using VR during the study.

Mynd Immersive, formerly MyndVR, AT&T 5G Healthcare, HTC Vive, a maker of 5G products, and a group of rehabilitation and senior living communities, like John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, Florida, collaborated with Stanford on the research. Release (Yahoo Finance), HIT Consultant

  • Clinician training for naloxone (Narcan) has received the VR treatment. Before the pandemic in 2019-2020, University of Pennsylvania researchers found that VR training was as effective as standard in-person training for naloxone administration to treat opioid overdose. The immersive, locally tailored nine-minute video produced by the Penn School of Nursing and the Annenberg Center for Communications was released on 27 October for first use in Camden County New Jersey. Camden has an ongoing naloxone program to train students, staff and school administrators, bus drivers, and other entities that carry Naloxone. Camden County
  • And Space, the Final Frontier, is another place where VR will be tested to improve astronauts’ mental health. A collaboration between XRHealth, Nord-Space Aps, and HTC Vive will use the latter’s Focus 3 headset to deliver “virtual assistance mental balance” to help improve astronauts’ specific mental health needs during their six to eight-month missions. The headset, modified to withstand microgravity, and programs will be used in the upcoming NASA Crew-7 mission. Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen will be the testing astronaut. Back here on the ground, XRHealth distributed hundreds of virtual reality headsets in Israel to 30 hospitals, assisted living and mental health centers, and nursing homes to assist patients suffering from stress, PTSD, and anxiety. Mobihealthnews
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