Hoag Memorial Hospital and BehaVR recently launched NurtureVR, a first-of-its-kind program for expectant mothers who use virtual reality (VR) to augment prenatal education and pain management related to pregnancy mindfulness, and support women through postpartum care.
By connecting accessible, immersive tech with humane, mindful care, NurtureVR delivers innovation to support pregnant women in their pregnancy and motherhood journey. NurtureVR will be rolled out in a pilot program at Hoag, mainly healthcare providers and health plans.
“We are delighted to partner with BehaVR to create and bring NurtureVR to new and expectant mothers across the nation. This program was developed by women for women. It incorporates the insights of women who are pregnant or were recently pregnant to ensure that it meets needs that are as diverse as the experiences of pregnancy and early motherhood.” – said Allyson Brooks, M.D., the Ginny Ueberroth Executive Medical Director Endowed Chair of Hoag Women’s Health Institute.
NurtureVR is built upon virtual reality’s ability to alleviate pain related to pregnancy, reduce stress, and promote overall wellbeing. It can be offered to women from their third trimesters. 3D ultrasound images can be uploaded to provide customized experiences. The curriculum continues for an additional eight weeks after the birth of the baby.
“Hoag knows firsthand how beneficial VR technology can be in helping patients with pain management, patient education and mindfulness. We have incorporated VR technology to assist surgeons with operations since 2015. NurtureVR combines our decades of caring for women and years of VR experience with the perspective and technology of BehaVR, which has allowed us to create a program that is unlike anything else we’re seeing in therapeutic VR or in women’s health,” he added. “The idea of NurtureVR is that virtual reality can serve as a lifelong tool, something women can carry with them through the ‘fourth trimester,’ that eight-week period after a baby is born, and beyond. We believe that women will be able to draw on the meditation, mindfulness, stress management, and education they experienced through VR throughout their motherhood experience.” – – Robert Louis, M.D., Chief of Neurosurgery and the Empower360 Endowed Chair for Skull Base and Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery, Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag.
Virtual reality functions by engaging all 4 systems of learning in the brain:
- The cognitive system, included in processing information in the pre-frontal cortex
- The experiential process, including touch, vision, and hearing
- The emotional system, for compassion, love, and bonding
- The behavioral system helps guide feelings of being awarded and motivation
“VR has already been proven as a highly effective tool for patient education, pain management, and mental health and wellness, but we believe we have just scratched the surface of the value it can have in healthcare and on patients’ lives and experiences. BehaVR is excited to partner with Hoag to bring NurtureVR to women as they journey through pregnancy and into early motherhood, and we look forward to exploring how this technology can continue to be expanded and refined to support new moms and their babies.” – Pete Buecker, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of BehaVR.
“We believe that VR is going to become standard for maternal education, pain management related to pregnancy, emotional health, and support for the coming generation of parents, and we are pleased to be on the leading edge of this trend. We recognize that healthy moms lead to healthy babies, and VR is an exciting new tool to help get us there. I envision mothers developing a relationship with the VR experience that allows them to feel better about themselves, to reduce feelings of angst and confusion, and to remind them to take care of themselves.” – Dr. Brooks.