Ohio University’s Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab has partnered with OhioHealth for a new project to reduce the stress that the COVID frontline workers experience through a tranquil VR experience.
Matt Love, the virtual reality production coordinator for the GRID Lab, has teamed up with Elizabeth Beverly, Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Ralph S. Licklider, D.O., Endowed Faculty Fellow in Behavioral Diabetes, as well as associate professor of primary care at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, for the project. The duo came together to find a way to minimize the stress healthcare workers are going through by leveraging VR tech.
It is not the first time the GRID Lab is collaborating with external partners. It already has a few going on in partnership with OhioHealth. The pandemic had brought the initiatives at GRID Lab to a halt, but Love and Beverly came up with the idea to leverage VR to mitigate the stress frontline workers were being subjected to as a result of the pandemic.
“The idea came from a conference we were speaking at on VR where another speaker spoke on using VR to mitigate pain for burn victims while changing bandages and how allowing for some type of escape helped the pain,” Love said. “We thought if this helped those victims, can VR also help those working the frontlines of COVID? On a whim we pitched the idea to OhioHealth and they loved it, allowing us to develop this experience for their employees.”
89 medical professionals have participated in the study, and most of them have enjoyed the experience. The VR experience has been beneficial, and several providers have asked to keep the VR at their sites for a more extended time. The entire experience lasts up to five minutes, however, people can choose its duration.
“Thousands of healthcare providers have been working on the front lines of the COVID-19 response for more than a year now,” Beverly said. “Our five-minute VR experience was designed to provide medical professionals with a brief respite during their long workday. The lush, nature-themed scene was filmed to promote relaxation, tranquility, and rejuvenation. We will take any opportunity to help medical professionals cope with the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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