Virtual reality is being used to help patients undergoing wound care at Rockyview General Hospital to help ease pain and anxiety during treatment — a first of it’s kind in Canada.
Two Samsung Gear virtual reality headsets were anonymously donated to the hospital after the donor saw research on the benefits of virtual reality during treatment.
Patients who use it are transported to an immersive, three-dimensional environment such as a lakeside campground, a prehistoric landscape with dinosaurs and a tranquil ocean to swim with dolphins.
“As soon as you put it on the patient and they enter the environment that they’ve chosen, you can almost seen an immediate affect in their body language and their breathing,” said Jaclyn Frank, wound care physiotherapist at Rockyview.
“Their whole body relaxes, their breathing slows down and you can tell they’ve been transported somewhere else and they’re not in the wounds room.”
Patient Graydon Cuthbertson has been using the virtual reality treatment when he gets wound care on his legs. He ended up in the hospital after he passed out at home, with his upper body falling over his legs.
The weight and pressure of his body caused compartment syndrome, when blood flow is decreased to a certain area in the body due to pressure.
Doctors told Cuthbertson he was at risk of having his legs amputated and had to have emergency surgery.
After two surgeries, Cuthbertson went in for a “wound change” with one of the nurses. The nurse had to remove a mesh material on top of his exposed muscle.
“She started pulling on it and I just went into shock. I was literally in shock. She stopped and I had to take a lot more pain killers, so I was really sedated,” said Cuthbertson.
When he went down to wound care for the next dressing change, he tried the virtual reality.
“Instantly it was so much better,” said Cuthbertson.
“I was really anxious from the trauma of the initial pain when it happened and after I was able to take an Ativan — basically they had to give me a little bit of anti-anxiety drugs and then just my regular pain killers and I was able to sit through it. It totally took down the stress and anxiety of going through it.”
He added he now feels “peace and relaxation” during treatment.
“Your mind forgets where you are,” said Cuthbertson.
During the research phase at the hospital, patients using the virtual reality reported a 75 per cent reduction in discomfort with a 31 per cent improvement in overall patient experience.
“They mark their pain score before they receive virtual reality, after their first wound care treatment, as well as after their wound care treatment after they received the virtual reality,” said Frank. “We’ve seen a huge improvement with our patients.”
The virtual reality has also had a positive impact not only on the patients, but on the wound care team.
“We noticed that we’re having less anxiety as healthcare practitioners because we don’t like to have our patients experiencing pain,” said Frank.
“We don’t want to hurt people and the fact that they’re happy and they’re looking forward to their wound care experience has lessened our anxiety.”
They’re also finding it more effective and efficient in that practitioners don’t have to take as many breaks for the patients due to pain.
The virtual reality treatment is dedicated to the wound care patients but there are plans to expand use to other units in the hospital.
Source Calgary Herald
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