Virtual reality calming patients before procedure

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The latest advancement in virtual reality may be the answer in calming children before they have a procedure. 

Like many teenagers, Zack Dwyer enjoys hanging out and sampling the latest in virtual reality. But this headset is not just for fun, but a way to prepare him for going into the hospital.

Dwyer says, "My heart rate was going about 260 beats-per-minute. Which is a little fast, and I never experienced this before." 

Luckily, it was a problem his doctors could easily fix with a catheterization procedure. However, the thought of being in a hospital can be intimidating, especially if you're just seventeen. 

Dr. Anne Dubin, pediatric cardiology, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital says, "He told me beforehand he was quite nervous about the procedure." 

Dwyer was then enrolled in a virtual reality study at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford. Created by cardiologist Anne Dubin and psychologist Lauren Schneider, "Project Braveheart" aims to reduce anxiety in children having cardiac catheterization.   

Schneider says, "And so we wanted to think of a way to enhance that and maybe do that a little more quickly."

Dr. Dubin says, "We basically will walk a child through the entire procedure that they're going to be undergoing."

In addition, the headset also provides kids with relaxation techniques to try.

Dr. Dubin says, "Patients who have been using the vr experience come in; they're much calmer the day of the procedure. They seem to be ready for it."

Kathryn Dwyer, Zack's mother says, "It really calmed some of his nerves." 

But most importantly for Dwyer and his family… 

Kathryn Dwyer says, "The operation was a success."

Once the study is complete, the doctors will begin looking at other ways to use the VR device beyond catherization. The hope is to eventually offer it to other hospitals across the country.


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