Watching the sunset on a tropical beach, swimming with dolphins, and participating in a snowball fight with colorful bears – this is just some of the virtual reality content made available to cancer patients at Sheba Medical Center through the use of VR in order to help reduce pain and anxiety.
The new technology, developed by AppliedVR, is employed as part of a cooperation between Sheba Medical Center’s innovation hub, Sheba ARC, and Takeda Israel, who donated the virtual reality devices for the benefit of cancer patients. Recent studies indicate that the use of virtual reality technology can help alleviate anxiety and chronic pain, and AppliedVR’s VR headset has been granted digital therapeutics (DTx) approval by the FDA.
“Our patients face a long, tough road with many challenges, and there’s no doubt in my mind that innovations of this kind can help and support clinical treatment,” said Dr. Abraham Avigdor, Director of the Institute of Hematology at Sheba Medical Center.
These devices can be used intuitively and do not require a remote or a tablet to operate. Instead, the user can navigate through content by simply shifting their gaze. Another unique feature allows patients to monitor their own breathing virtually, helping them to practice controlled breathing. Since the devices do not have any porous or rough surfaces, they can be easily disinfected and are suitable for use in this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Dr. Eyal Zimlichman, Deputy Director-General, Chief Medical Officer, and Chief Innovation Officer at Sheba Medical Center: “The integration of VR technology will become an essential part of medicine in the coming years. Here at Sheba, we are a world leader in the implementation of this technology and use it not only for rehabilitation, training staff, and in operating rooms, but also as a therapeutic tool. This initial deployment of VR in the Oncology Department is only the beginning.”