How Virtual Reality Can Help Kids Through Doctor Appointments

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A ROUTINE TRIP TO THE doctor’s office for a flu shot or blood test can cause nervousness and anxiety. Any parent or person who works with children understands this from first-hand experience. When it comes to our children, medical procedures involving needles can result in frustration, tearful outbursts or worse. So imagine the enormous fear and stress experienced by families whose children must endure frequent needle sticks to survive.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Parents, as well as medical experts, have long used distraction techniques effectively to comfort young patients. For infants, swaddling or dipping a pacifier in sugar water often works well. Toddlers and young children are often distracted with music, books, toys or tablets. Older children sometimes want to be a part of the process and learn why it’s important to receive the shot or test.

For children born today who can figure out how to use tablets before they can walk, the bar to engage and distract has been raised. An educational video during a procedure does not provide the level of distraction to ensure a positive patient experience or reduce stress. In the world of artificial intelligence and virtual reality that they’ve been born into, my hope is that we can utilize this technology to actually make their lives better in significant ways. For example, we’re learning that VR could be a game changer for children who endure frequent medical interventions.

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