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Virtual reality to alleviate stress for chemotherapy patients

virtual reality

A fantastic new project is underway showcasing how virtual reality (VR) can be used as a tool to help ease psychological stress and provide a form of “distraction therapy” during typically arduous chemotherapy treatments.

Sydney based virtual reality studio Start VR have collaborated with Samsung Australia and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to develop the ground-breaking initiative to supply Samsung VR technology to help alleviate stress for diagnosed oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

In a recent trial patients were provided with the VR headsets and the option to select an experience ranging from transporting patients to a relaxing travel destination, plunging off an airplane in a skydiving stimulating experience, taking a boat ride through the Sydney Harbour, snorkelling through sparkling blue waters and petting Koalas at a zoo.

The initiative was spearheaded by Start VR’s Head of Content Martin Taylor, who collaborated with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and Samsung Australia to bring the partnership to life.

“Our main goal is to create compelling virtual reality content and initiatives that make a positive impact on the lives of consumers,” says Taylor.

“We wanted to determine if VR had the potential to change people’s outlook on their current environment and we felt that a healthcare setting, where people sit and wait for periods of time, worried about unknown outcomes would be the right place to start. Though after months of theory and planning, the true reward was meeting these incredible patients and seeing them experience instant joy through the power of VR.”

“Exploring the application of VR in healthcare, highlights an exciting pathway for this burgeoning medium and we are proud to leverage what we are learning to continually push boundaries in VR content creation.” he adds.

Thriving on the inclusion of cutting edge research, discoveries and uncompromising care, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse embraced virtual reality as a treatment support option for their patients and had clinical staff guiding and supervising to ensure patient safety.

Michael Marthick, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Complementary Therapy Director says, “Allowing patients to escape the experience of chemotherapy gives them a bit of space to forget what’s going on. In settings such as before surgery, patients are even more anxious. This gives them a distraction and allows them to keep their spirits up. Wellness isn’t just about the physical side of things, it’s also about mental wellbeing.”

About Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is one of two comprehensive cancer centers in Australia. Using the latest technology in a modern, purpose-built cancer hospital, our highly experienced clinicians see more than 40,000 public and private patients every year – concentrating all their efforts, learning, research and expertise into cancer care alone.

We use a multidisciplinary approach to treatment where teams comprising surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, allied health professionals and researchers provide peer-reviewed, tailored, individualised treatment to patients.

Lifehouse is also one of Australia’s biggest cancer clinical trials centres, giving our patients access to the world’s newest cancer breakthroughs. International research has confirmed this specialised, cancer-only approach supported by trials and research at comprehensive cancer centres in the United States and Europe, has resulted in outcomes that are 5 to 15 percent better for patients after five years.