Dr. Chad Rudnick, an associate professor at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University in the United States, has created an ingenious system to divert children from their fear of needles, anxieties, and pain by using a virtual reality headset.
The doctor has been the first to carry out a trial study, reported in the journal ‘Pain Management,’ using this method in a pediatric environment after an 8-year-old patient visited his office. The kid wore his virtual reality headset at the time Rudnick was going to inject him. Even though he was scared of needles, the boy didn’t shudder. That was the moment when the idea came up to Rudnick.
“That’s when the lightbulb went off in my head. It made me wonder if this result was just a one-time thing or if it would work again,” said Dr. Chad Rudnick.
Until now, not one study had looked into the use of virtual reality diversion in pediatric vaccinations, so Rudnick opted to experiment his hypothesis with two of his students, Emaan Sulaiman and Jillian Orden, who both become co-authors of the study eventually.
The researchers were successful in using virtual reality distraction in children with fear of needles
For the research, a 3D virtual reality headset and a smartphone app were used, offering the kids the capability of feeling as if they were on a roller coaster or a hot air balloon trip. After the virtual reality headset was put in place and the app was running, Dr. Chad Rudnick injected the patients.
Study subjects, aged between 6 and 17 years old, filled out a pre- and post-test survey to evaluate their fear of needles based on the McMurty Children’s Fear Scale and the Wong-Baker pain rating scale.
The study showed that the predicted pain and fear lowered in 94.1 percent of the children who participated in the study. Also, 94.1 percent of the children reported they’d like to use virtual reality again in their next immunization session.