Virtual Reality Transports Children in Hospital to Another World

by Alicia Simpson

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Ryan Ziggan (9) trials the virtual reality headset in ECHC - image for Charity PR

YOUNG patients at an Edinburgh hospital have been transported into space, swam through shipwrecks and even helped fight off robotic spiders – without ever leaving their beds.

Children and their families at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in the capital have recently been trialing virtual reality headsets, thanks to a partnership between Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) and Specsavers.

The headsets are suitable for all ages and can be used individually or can be linked up to a separate monitor to allow other young patients, families and staff members to join in.

The activity aims to bring an enjoyable and relaxing distraction to what can be a stressful experience. The headsets offer a variety of virtual selections to transport the user on far flung adventures, but also have everyday options such as the beach and the British Museum, to ensure young patients don’t feel they are missing out on these activities.

This is the first hospital trial conducted by Specsavers’ Iain McFadyen, who will use the patient feedback to adapt the headsets for use in other Scottish hospitals.

Fiona O’Sullivan, Arts Programme Manager at ECHC, said: “We are so grateful to Iain for trialing the headset at the RHSC. The children are all really enjoying it and we’ve had some hugely positive feedback so far.

“The headsets are a fantastic way to help young patients feel less anxious in a hospital environment. Once they have them on, the kids become completely immersed in the virtual world.

“It’s a great release not only for the patients but also for their families too, and it’s wonderful that we’re able to bring them such a fun activity that everyone can get involved with.

“This is just one of the many activities that we provide to ensure children and young people’s lives are less interrupted by illness; they are less scared of the hospital environment and have a more positive experience and it’s been a huge success so far.”

Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity supports the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh and has contributed over £3 million towards its move to a new, purpose-built home at Little France in 2018.

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