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Virtual reality to ward off the fear of children in the hospital


We all fear that moment before a blood test: we see the needle approach and before it touches the arm we already feel pain. And all, because of fear. Imagine what a child feels ...

To try to calm children and get rid of that moment of panic about operations or a blood draw, some hospitals they bet on virtual reality.

At National Children's Hospital (Costa Rica), this system is being experimented on in the Child burn unit. While the nurses have to put the pathway to a child, or moments before the operation, the child can 'escape' contemplating the depth of the ocean or walking in the middle of the tranquility of the jungle. In any case, these are always quiet settings that convey a sense of calm. The objective of this system, obviously, is to reduce the pain and fear of the little ones before any medical procedure.

How does it work? Using a virtual reality vision device. They put it on the child when they are going to put a line or draw blood. The child is entertained and he barely notices what is happening in the medical room. It is also very useful at the time of applying anesthesia. That little moment of distraction helps the child to relax until the sedation takes effect.

The system itself is not new. He has a name: Snoezelen. It is a system that consists of increasing the perception towards certain stimuli to reduce the perception towards others. In other words, a kind of 'escape' from a certain situation. It is possible to reduce stress and increase emotions or positive feelings.

At the moment it is used in people over 5 years old due to the size of the device. Also in adolescents. In many hospitals the possibility of expand its use. For example, in the case of children admitted to the oncology unit to promote the emotional well-being of hospitalized children. In fact, this system is already in use in some children's cancer hospitals. For example, in the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital (U.S).

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