Member News — Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital Gives Patients a Dose of Virtual Reality
March 6th, 2019
The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center is offering its pediatric patients an escape from potentially painful or uncomfortable procedures and to relieve anxiety to create a positive experience.
In an effort to reduce stress and offer a calming distraction from the treatment they are undergoing, patients can put on a set of virtual reality goggles to escape the hospital environment and go on an exciting Journey. This state-of-the-art, interactive technology by appliedVR™ was given to the Child Life Program at the children’s hospital by a generous donor through the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation.
“The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital is incredibly grateful to this philanthropic support, which supplied the funding for the technology,” said Amy Glazer, executive director of Development at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Tackle Kids Cancer. “This gift has provided hundreds of patients comfort and relaxation during the most stressful of circumstances.”
The goggles are utilized for patients in the Children’s Cancer Institute, and the pediatric inpatient and outpatient units of the children’s hospital.
“The virtual reality goggles are a wonderful tool to help manage acute and chronic pain in our pediatric patients,” according to Stacey Rifkin-Zenenberg, DO, FAAP, pediatric hematologist/oncologist, Children’s Cancer Institute, and section chief, Pain and Palliative Care, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center. “The goggles, which are a form of guided imagery, have been shown to help alleviate anxiety with procedures. This technology allows the patient to use many senses to distract during a procedure or during a pain crisis. This technology truly supports the emotional wellness and therapeutic needs of our patients.”
“The Child Life Program was provided funding to purchase 10 pairs of appliedVR™ goggles and secure the licensing for the products,” said Ellen Goldring, section chief of Child Life, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center. “Since integrating the program into our patient care, our Child Life team has seen incredible success in helping patients with pain management, relaxation, and anxiety reduction.”
17-year-old Ryan Shaughnessy says he has used the goggles several times during his hospital stays.
“It was fun, and using it made me feel a little better,” said Ryan Shaughnessy. “It really took my mind off the situation and was fun to play all the games on it and to learn how to use the program.”
The fully mobile, virtual reality technology allows patients to leave the confinement of their treatment area or hospital room by taking them on a variety of exciting journeys or to play various games. With the technology, pediatric patients can relax on a sandy beach or tranquil ocean or they can visit any number of scenic destinations across the country and around the globe. The VR software is constantly being updated, offering patients an ever-expanding assortment of places to go to.
The headset is easy to operate and is being used to further assist child life specialists while they care for patients. This technology offers an entertaining distraction to children when they are receiving important, yet typically anxiety-inducing treatments, such as blood draws, IV insertions, spinal taps, dressing changes and blood transfusions.