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Using VR to Reduce Anxiety in Pediatric Patients

Raised toward our $30,000 Goal
54 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on January 01, at 12:00 AM PST
Project Owners

Using VR to Reduce Anxiety in Pediatric Patients

Dr. Scott Comulada was motivated to start this project by his six-year-old daughter, pictured to the left, who had a minor surgery last year. The smile in the picture belies the fear and anxiety she expressed. Understandably, it can be a pretty traumatic experience for a child to face surgery, as it may be hard to explain what surgery is to them. Anxiety before surgery is common and can complicate surgical recovery, which can burden patients and hospitals with additional costs. 

Current standards of care for children to alleviate anxiety before surgery     

·       Written material/orientation videos

·       360-virtual tours 

·       Play distraction on the day of the surgery

·       Medications to help alleviate some of the anxiety

None immerse the child in the perioperative experience so they can become familiar with what they will face.

 Can we do better than current standards of care? Yes! Virtual reality (VR) provides an immersive experience and is currently used for patients with phobias and PTSD as shown on the left. Why not offer children a VR orientation to alleviate anxiety before their surgery?

How it will work. Children undergoing elective surgery will be given a VR headset before the day of surgery. The headset will allow them to walk through the perioperative experience and communicate with avatars of their clinical care team. Patients will be able to virtually experience events that will happen before and after their surgery: being in the pre-op room, meeting and talking with nurses and physicians, being wheeled into the operating room, the mask with anesthesia being placed over their face, and then waking up in the recovery room.

How your donations will help. The VR perioperative experience will be evaluated at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. Our team has already taken video footage of the perioperative environment that will be used to build a virtual hospital environment. Sample still shots of the pre-op room and OR are shown below. Donations are needed to build the VR prototype and program the VR experience. For example, programming is needed to build virtual hospital rooms, equipment in the rooms, avatars the patients will interact with and to support communication between patients and avatars.


Choose a giving level


VR Goggles

A donation of $250 will go toward the purchase of virtual reality (VR) goggles to help a child begin their virtual journey to reduce fear and anxiety before they face surgery.


Creation of Virtual Items

A donation of $500 will go toward the creation of virtual items and equipment in the pre-operative and operating rooms to create a more realistic VR experience for children facing surgery. Items and equipment include computers, patient monitoring equipment (e.g., EKG machine), anesthesia machines and monitors, a surgical microscope, an endoscopy tower, laryngoscopes, an electrosurgical unit, sequential compression device, nerve stimulator, blood warmer, sponge counter units, and IV accessories.


Creation of an Avatar

A donation of $1,000 will go toward the creation of an avatar that will appear as an anesthesiologist, surgeon, nurse or other clinical staff in the VR world to talk to the child, answering questions and offering comfort to alleviate fear and anxiety in the child. A donation of $1,000 also gets you an invitation to an online demo of the VR surgical orientation experience. You will see video screenshots to give you snapshots of the VR experience that will be viewed through the VR goggles.


Creation of a Virtual Room

A donation of $5,000 will go toward the creation of a virtual pre-operative and operating room, as well as furniture and lighting that would normally appear in those rooms. Furniture includes medical cabinetry, hand, prep, surgical and instrument tables, exchange and utility carts, and stools. A donation of $5,000 also gets you an invitation to experience the VR surgical orientation as a child will experience it through a live demo at UCLA.

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