For a child, even a simple medical procedure like a blood draw, needle poke, or IV insertion can be scary and stressful. Jeffrey I. Gold, Director of the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and his team are taking a unique approach to reducing distress during blood draws and other procedures by using a virtual reality (VR) game. To study this concept, a clinical trial consisting of 150 kids had their blood drawn using standard practices with or without VR.
In the trial, patients played a VR game called Bear Blast, designed for the purpose of pain management. In the game, kids launch foam balls at silly, cartoon bears just by looking at them. The minimal movement requirements of the game are ideal for medical applications, said Gold, and the simplicity of the game makes it something everyone can enjoy. Gold and his team are also developing VR environments to be used over longer periods of time for children with chronic pain.
Video: See the Bear Blast game in action