Being in hospital is an incredibly worrying time for our sick kids and this anxiety can mean our expert doctors and nurses sometimes struggle to perform simple procedures.

A number of successful trials across our hospital has proved using virtual reality (VR) technology can significantly decrease stress levels and reduce discomfort during minor medical procedures. 

One of our young patients who has benefited from using VR is eight-year-old Matthew, from West Heath in Birmingham. Matthew has colitis, a painful and debilitating condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system.  He needs to visit us every four to six weeks for infusion treatment in which medicine is delivered via a cannula into his bloodstream.  For Matthew, who also has autism, hospital visits have been incredibly difficult.

Matthew’s mum, Bella explains: “Matthew’s condition means that regular treatment is vital, but for a long time even getting him through the hospital door was a huge challenge. He found the whole experience terrifying. When he knew he had an appointment he would become so anxious that he’d resist getting into the car, which meant we were always late. In hospital he would kick and scream at the staff and needed sedation before anyone could get near him to insert the cannula tube. The stress impacted directly on his condition and made it worse. It was horrible for everyone, especially Matthew.”

Thankfully, help was at hand in the shape of Emma from our play team who worked with Matthew on strategies to cope with his anxieties. “Emma built a wonderful, trusting relationship with Matthew and suggested that using Virtual Reality might be one way of helping him get through his treatment,” says Bella.

“It is hard to explain what the use of VR has meant for Matthew. It’s like the difference between night and day,” says Bella. “Emma used a mindfulness setting which transported him to a beach with waves breaking on the sand. He was completely absorbed, and the nurses were able to insert his cannula in a matter of minutes. VR has totally transformed his hospital experience and the fact that he is so much less anxious also means that his condition has improved.”

The use of VR can have huge benefits both for patients and families and for our staff, saving time, money and most importantly ensuring that our children are relaxed, happy, and able to deal with a range of otherwise difficult procedures.

Help us make this technology a permanent part of our daily care so we can significantly improve the experience and clinical outcomes for our patients.

Head to our VR Headsets campaign page for more information