Virtual reality games can distract kids during medical procedures like venipuncture
Virtual reality games

Virtual reality games can distract kids during medical procedures like venipuncture

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Many hospitals have child life services teams to help kids cope with medical procedures like venipuncture, while others are dependent on conventional methods of diversions like books and toys.

According to a new research, virtual reality games may offer an attractive and practical addition to the listing of distraction therapy choices if used carefully and appropriately for pediatric clinical situations.

Researchers randomly selected around 50 patients ranging from 7 to 22 years and receiving venipuncture procedures into three groups. The first group played virtual reality games in front of a child life specialist. The second group did not play a VR game but was supported by a child specialist. The third group of patients neither played VR games nor had the support of a child life specialist.

The researchers found the first group which played virtual reality games during their venipuncture procedure suffered from reduced pain and anxiety. Also, the combination of support from child life specialists and VR games worked best. However, they found that children using virtual reality during venipunctures had more prolonged procedure times by around 4-6 minutes than those who had only child life specialist support.

“We feel that the extra time isn’t a huge detriment because it is hard to put a value on reducing a child’s trauma during a venipuncture procedure. Even if VR adds five minutes, making a child more comfortable is well worth it.” – Therese Canares, Director of pediatric emergency medicine digital health innovation, Johns Hopkins University Children’s Center. 

“We found that games involving little movement of the head and arms, played without high anxiety scenarios—such as military battles or zombie attacks—and not requiring a controller or extensive menu options, worked best because they added the least amount of extra time to a venipuncture procedure.” – Canares continued.

Although virtual reality, along with child life specialist support, seems to be the best distraction treatment, “it isn’t meant to replace child life professionals since games cannot take the place of human touch and compassion,” Canares states.

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