cancer patients often have anxiety before scheduled treatments or
procedures, and treatment often requires normally active children to
remain nearly motionless for extended periods of time. At the AFLAC
Cancer Center at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta, young cancer
patients may find their treatment a little easier to bear thanks to
an innovative program currently under way to examine the effects of
virtual reality as a distractor for painful or
uncomfortable medical procedures.
The research was conceived by psychologist Dr. Barbara Rothbaum of
Emory University and computer expert Dr. Larry Hodges of the Georgia
Institute of Technology, founders of Virtually Better, Inc.
The anecdotal evidence is promising so far, according to Rosemarie
Lemos, a registered nurse with the Outpatient Clinic at the AFLAC
Cancer Center. One very anxious patient, as he was experiencing
the virtual reality environment, asked me when I was going to perform
the procedure, she said. My response was I already did.
The initial study of the virtual reality system includes 50 patients
between the ages of 8 and 18 undergoing chemotherapy via a central
venous access device.