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An Innovative Virtual Reality Experience in the PICU: A Pilot Study

Badke, C. M.; Essner, B. S.; O'Connell, M.; Malakooti, M. R.

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2019 Mar 29; 20(6):e283-e286


OBJECTIVES: Patients in the PICU frequently have limitations that impede independent interactions with their environment. Virtual reality is an immersive experience that may improve outcomes in critically ill children. The objective of this study was to assess feasibility and satisfaction with virtual reality. DESIGN: Cross-sectional, single-arm pilot study. SETTING: PICU. PATIENTS: Convenience sample of 3- to 17-year-old patients. INTERVENTIONS: Three-hundred sixty degree immersions were delivered using a simple virtual reality headset and smartphone videos. Each participant was given a choice of developmentally appropriate virtual reality experiences. Following the short (< 15 min) virtual reality experience, participants, and parents completed a brief survey. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: One-hundred percent of participants enjoyed using virtual reality, and 84% reported preference to use virtual reality for a longer duration. One-hundred percent of parents agreed that their child enjoyed using virtual reality, and 100% enjoyed watching their child use virtual reality. Eighty-two percent of parents reported that virtual reality calmed their child. CONCLUSIONS: Virtual reality is an innovative, easily administered, and enjoyable tool that subjectively calms PICU patients in an otherwise chaotic environment.

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