Virtual Reality Relaxation Experience
An operation is a worrying event for many people, regardless of the procedure or whether they’ve had surgery before. Helping patients to feel less anxious and making sure their individual needs are met means they have a better experience—and recover faster.
When utilizing virtual reality, patients can receive relaxing and therapeutic benefits. This includes entertainment, which can be helpful in distracting them from anxiety-inducing appointments. Still, regardless of whether the procedure is surgical or an in-office procedure, a patient can wear a virtual reality headset while waiting for their procedure to begin. Likewise, while in post-operative recovery.
One of our collaborative projects with the medical industry was to determine if virtual reality relaxation therapy is a viable solution to help manage patient anxiety. The aim of our design was to promote relaxation. In addition, to explore whether a patient who is virtually immersed into a natural universe could be part of a new therapy to reduce patients’ preoperative anxiety.
Our VR relaxation experience can significantly reduce patient anxiety and decrease pain. Because of these benefits, this therapeutic virtual reality tool can be used as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to calm nerves by reducing or even eliminating the need for anti-anxiety medications.
Human Health Industry
VR for Wellness, Relaxation, and Mindfulness
Preoperative anxiety is a natural response to surgery stress which may happen to anybody before a procedure. This stress is escalated when a patient is informed about the need for surgery, at the initiation of surgery, and during hospitalization. Thus, even for outpatient procedures, doctors find the experience can cause stress and anxiety for patients. Especially if the patients are children.
Virtual reality is believed to create an immersive experience that can restrict the mind from processing acute pain. What’s more, it has been shown to be superior to simpler distraction methods in reducing pain for inpatients. VR offers novel solutions in healthcare, and it has been gradually implemented into medical education, rehabilitation, and management of mental health and chronic pain.
The other benefit of using virtual reality to manage pain and anxiety is that it avoids the need for sedatives or anesthesia, which takes patients longer to recover from. And, VR is a noninvasive way to reduce preoperative stress levels with no side effects and no need for additional medical staff. Finally, VR can also be self-empowering for patients since it requires their participation and involvement.
We collaborated with the medical industry to design a virtual reality relaxation experience that would help ensure patients arrive in the operating department ready for surgery. Our goal was to explore VR as a therapeutic treatment modality. We believe it has the potential to alleviate emotional stress, anxiety, and trauma before a patient undergoes a procedure.
This project demonstrates that VR may provide an effective complementary technique to manage stress in surgery patients. To promote relaxation and calmness, we designed a fully immersive VR environment: a tropical beach accompanied by relaxing ocean sounds. Further, scenarios of natural settings may be designed such as sitting in a peaceful meadow, forest, or other tranquil settings.
As an addition to standard anesthesia practice, patients can wear a VR headset. Thus, they can view the programming of their choice throughout an entire procedure.
Our fully immersive sensory environment lets patients be immersed in a relaxing, peaceful setting. Indeed, this virtual reality project represents a noninvasive way to reduce preoperative stress levels in patients.