Mia, a brave teenage patient at our Children’s Hospital recently received Spinal Fusion surgery for Scoliosis, a challenging condition which causes her spine to curve. Before surgery, Mia’s spine had a curvature of 82 degrees meaning she required a titanium rod to realign her spine from the neck down. Two – three per cent of the population are affected by Scoliosis with 10 per cent requiring surgery to rectify the placement of their spine. For 15-year-old Mia, the surgery has allowed her to have a better quality of life, increasing her mobility and reducing future curvature from occurring.

As a connective-tissue condition, surgery must be completed under General Anaesthetic (GA), which can often be an uncomfortable and anxious experience for our young people, which is why we’ve been able to offer our patients a new form of distraction therapy, before, after, and sometimes during complex medical procedures. Funded by our charity, the use of Virtual Reality is being integrated into our clinical practices to reduce anxiety in children and young people across our Trust, helping us to safely complete complex procedures like Mia’s quickly and seamlessly, so Mia can return home and reduce her length of stay.

Before Mia’s surgery, mum Lorette, aged 41, shared: “Before her surgery, Mia was quite nervous, so the VR was really great for helping her to relax. It definitely reduced her anxiety. It’s a scary time to be in hospital so having this was awesome. We definitely think it should be used across the hospital more often as it does make the experience far less uncomfortable compared to without the headsets.”

Mia, age 15 said: "I've never used a VR headset before so it was really fun to use one in hospital. It really took my mind off why I was there."

With Mia back home, recovering from her surgery, Lorette said: “We’re hoping to get Mia back to school soon so she can get back to her usual life as a teenager – being bed-ridden isn’t great so to be able to get her out of the hospital and back on her feet is brilliant. I’d say the VR was a really good idea to make the process easier – it definitely has a place.”

We are currently raising £120,000 to purchase Virtual Reality Headsets to support patients like Mia across our hospital. By making this technology part of our daily care, we can significantly improve the experience and clinical outcomes for our patients. Being in hospital is already worrying for a young person – we want to make sure we can make the process as anxiety-free as possible so we can reduce the amount of time children have to be with us.

Click here to learn more about our Virtual Reality Appeal or to make a donation towards supporting our children and young people during their hospital experience.