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VR helps hospice patients to break free from isolation



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A hospice patient uses a virtual reality head.


AT&T

When hospice nurse Laurie McKay arrived at the emergency room, her patient – a man in his early sixties with terminal cancer and now a crack hen – told her: "I knew you would come someday, but today my wife and I would come on a cruise ship. "

McKay, the main care educator of the Continuum Care Hospice based in the San Francisco Bay Area, did not want the couple to miss the last cruise to Alaska together, so she turned to a tool as Continuum had begun to use with their patients – the virtual reality.

She made a meeting to visit the couple when they were home again. With the help of the Samsung Gear VR headset and Google Earth VR, she had mapped out all the ports that the cruise would have stopped, giving the couple 360 ​​degree views of the ocean, waterfalls and ice caves that they might have had in person. McKay also showed the man's childhood home today and the California marina where the boat he had been working on was docked.

"These were experiences he thought he could never see completed," McKay said.






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While you may be thinking of the virtual reality as something used for gaming and marketing gimmicks, it has also been featured in a number of other industries, including healthcare. The virtual reality market for healthcare alone should hit $ 6.91 billion in 2026, according to a March report from reports and data.

VR can get a bad rap as a one-way tech trend that failed to meet expectations, but companies have not given up. Facebook last month released $ 400 Oculus Quest, which CNET editor Scott Stein called the best he tried this year. And the virtual reality has made the head out of the consumer world.

For example, by using VR for hospice care – as a way to get a larger world to people who have been confined to a room, or just a bed – it begins to take care of caregivers. It can be a way to uncheck bucket list items, such as visiting London, swimming with dolphins or even parachuting. It can also supplement therapy and counseling, and may even help manage pain.

Plugging in

To bring VR to their patients over the past year, Continuum continues with Rendever, a company that focuses on virtual reality for seniors.

Rendever gave Continuum with headsets and tablets that allow the person running the session to control the experience. The company has a library of mostly third-party VR experiences to choose from, and a flagging system that they have created that allows caregivers to know that an app may not be suitable for someone with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder, motion sickness, or the like. In addition, two people can also experience the same device with separate headsets.

That the ability to share the experience is an important factor. Reindeer CEO Kyle Rand talked about the existence of social isolation among seniors and how it is difficult to create new common experiences when your world has become so limited.

"It's one of the most amazing things you can offer a family going through this very difficult time – to give them a last trip," Rand said.

Other in the country, hospice caregivers suck out how to use the virtual reality.

Ben Roby, a chapel at the Hospice of North Central Ohio and the self-service resident technology, began looking at the VR about a year ago when the development manager contacted him about it.

After doing a lot of research and receiving grants from a local philanthropic organization, Roby stuck to a Windows Mixed Reality headset and a Oculus Go .

During the four and a half months he has had VR in the field with him (at this time he does not go home without it), Roby said most patients trying to use it again. One patient, a 91-year-old woman, last week made a request for scuba diving.

But beyond seeking excitement, finding peace or just doing cool things in VR, Roby said it also helped him bridge some of the more serious conversations the patients could possibly have with a chapel.

Once upon a time, he found a woman Angel Falls in Venezuela, the world's highest waterfall.

"She took off goggles and she said," How's the sky going better than that? "As he said," As a chapel, it just kicks the door next to me to be able to dialogue with her about the end of life. " using VR.

In February, AT&T and Vitas Healthcare began studying how it could be used to manage anxiety and pain relief, by reducing the use of opioids and helping patients stay clearer.

Linking virtual reality to To relieve pain from distraction is not new. Researchers at the University of Washington used VR to help burn victims get through painful wound dressings more than a decade ago. A 2017 study by Cedars-Sinai found that patients using virtual reality as a distraction reported one 24 percent reduction in the severity of their pain.

Rod Cruz, AT & T's Director General of Healthcare Ind. Industry Solutions, said that VR for pain relief could be a preferred option "rather than making people comfortably numbered with opiates and other things to judge pain."

Vitas and AT & T begin in California with 15 clinics that have Magic Leap and Oculus Go headset. Vita's CIO Patrick Hale expects it to be translated into hundreds of patients using the devices. From all these interactions, they hope to get away with perspectives on the best types of experience to use, the ideal length and data on the effects of VR on respiratory rate, pulse and blood pressure. Within six to nine months, Hale wants to have a developed and modified therapy program that can be used by Vitas all over the country.

Cruz said he had access to 5G mobile hotspots to run 4K VR could cut down and improve VR experience. However, the next generation of cellular technology is only in the early stages of implementation, so the type of coverage that would have to be in place for this could still be years away.

VR's influence

VR may not be a magic drink – there will be people who do not want to move with new technology, or who would be prone to nausea and motion sickness that sometimes accompanies laggy virtual reality experiences. For others, poor vision can be an obstacle.

But for those who can use it, their caregivers say it is effective in the way they did not expect .

McKay – the nurse who wrote out the cruise ports for the couple who missed their trip – said the man's wife reported that he told everyone who came to visit him about the VR experience they had done. And when he died, she even talked about it to his service.

"[He thought] he was supposed to be in a bed in his home and waited to die," McKay said. "He found instead that he could live and participate and find pleasure every day he got."


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