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VR Headsets Can Reduce Children’s Fear Of Injections By 94 Percent, Claims Doctor’s Research

 

 

As a parent, there's no task more daunting than taking your kid to the doctor for a vaccination. The crying, the screaming, the tantrums, it's all emotionally exhausting. However, doctors believe VR might holds the key to making it a more bearable experience.

It's fairly common to be afraid of needles. Plenty of adults are terrified of them too, but at least they're not going to run away from them if they really need a shot. Kids don't have that sort of impulse control though, especially since they don't understand why they need it. That's why most parents usually find it easier to lie about a doctor's visit.

But one pediatrician believes distracting the poor kids can go beyond simply catching them unawares. He believes an immersive simulation could instead make the entire process much easier.

Chad Rudnick MD, a professor at Florida Atlantic University's Charles E Schmidt College of Medicine says he got the idea for a VR  study when an eight-year-old child walked into his office for a shot, with VR goggles in tow. The kid put the headset on as Rudnick gave him the injection, and much to the doctor's delight he didn't even flinch.

"That's when the lightbulb went off in my head" Rudnick said. " It got me thinking whether this outcome was just a one-time incident or whether it would work again."

He tested his theory with the children coming into his office for routine immunisations, studying their fear and pain, both anticipated and actual. For the study, Rudnick used a VR headset and a smartphone app, giving the kids a choice between a virtual roller coaster, helicopter flight, or hot-air balloon ride. The doctor said he gave the injection only after the headset was on and running, and kept it in place until 30 seconds after the injection was administered.

According to questionnaire answers from both the children and their parents, the actual pain and fear experienced in comparison to their anticipated feelings were reduced by 94.1 percent on average. Basically, though the kids were fearful of the imminent pain when coming into the doctor's office, they actually barely felt anything while the injection was being administered.

This ties into previous research that's analysed the human attention span. In essence, we have a limited capacity for attention, so if we're compelled to divert our attention away from a painful stimulus to respond to a positive one, we feel the pain less.

It's also a really easy to implement this tactic. There are plenty of existing smartphone VR apps, many of which are  free, and VR headsets for phones can be bought for as little as a few hundred rupees. A small price to pay to avoid the heart-wrenching wails of your child in terror of a needle.

About priyanka sharma

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