Blend Media Industry Spotlight: Patient Welfare

Virtual reality (VR) is an effective tool for improving patient wellbeing in the healthcare industry. VR has the potential to improve patient wellbeing by providing pain relief, reducing stress and anxiety, supporting rehabilitation, and promoting social connection. By offering patients an immersive and interactive experience, VR can help improve the patient experience and provide a more personalized and effective healthcare experience.

Here at Blend, we have licenced content to numerous organisations including the NHS, Harvard MedTech, and Penumbra to deliver 360 immersive experiences to help patients. We have an extensive library of relaxing content to suit a variety of needs. You can check out some of the highlights here including pristine beaches, rushing waterfalls, and fields of llamas.

Below are some of the use cases for VR in healthcare.

Palliative Care

VR is proving a useful tool in palliative care, which focuses on providing comfort, pain relief, and supportive care for patients with life-limiting illnesses. It has been found to have a significant positive impact on pain, anxiety, upper extremity movement, fatigue and quality of life. Some of the ways in which it can be used are:

Pain management: VR can be used as a non-pharmacological pain management tool for patients in palliative care. The immersive and interactive nature of VR can help distract patients from their pain, reduce anxiety and stress, and promote relaxation. For example, patients can be transported to a peaceful and calming virtual environment such as a beach, forest, or garden, where they can interact with virtual objects or engage in activities like meditation or breathing exercises.

End-of-life planning: VR can also be used to facilitate discussions around end-of-life planning. For example, patients and their families can use VR to explore hospice or palliative care facilities and see what different options and services are available. This can help patients and their families make informed decisions about their end-of-life care and reduce stress and anxiety around the decision-making process.

Life review: VR can be used as a tool for life review, which is a therapeutic process that helps patients reflect on their life experiences and achievements. By using VR to revisit significant places or events in their life, patients can engage in a meaningful and reflective process that can promote emotional healing and acceptance.

Social connection: VR can also help patients in palliative care connect with loved ones who may not be able to visit them in person. For example, patients can use VR to attend family events, visit their childhood home, or interact with loved ones in a virtual environment.

Distraction Therapy

Virtual reality (VR) technology is increasingly being used as a tool for distraction therapy, particularly for patients undergoing painful or stressful medical procedures, such as chemotherapy, surgery, or dental procedures.  Distraction therapy aims to divert a patient’s attention away from their discomfort, which can help reduce their perception of pain and anxiety. By immersing patients in a virtual environment, VR distracts them from their surroundings and transports them to a different place. Recently, a hospital in Spain has been using this to help children relax before operations with good results.

In distraction therapy, VR headsets are often used to create an immersive and interactive experience for the patient. The virtual environment can be tailored to the patient’s preferences and needs, such as a calming beach scene, a peaceful forest, or even a favorite video game. The patient can interact with objects in the virtual environment, such as throwing a virtual ball or playing a virtual game, which further engages them and distracts them from their discomfort.

Overall, VR technology can be a valuable tool for healthcare professionals looking to provide patients with an alternative to traditional pain management techniques. By providing an immersive and engaging experience, VR can help reduce anxiety and pain, and improve patient comfort and satisfaction.

Meditation & Stress Reduction

The positive effects of mindfulness on overall health is well documented, helping people manage depression, anxiety, and stress. VR can be used by patients to help them self-manage their own stress levels, both in the home and in a clinical setting. VR can be used to create a calming and relaxing virtual environment that can help reduce stress and anxiety. Patients can be transported to a tranquil environment such as a beach or forest, where they can engage in activities such as meditation, breathing exercises, or mindfulness training.

VR can be used to provide patients with a virtual travel experience that can help them escape from their daily routine and reduce their stress levels. Patients can explore different parts of the world, visit famous landmarks or museums, or engage in cultural activities, all within a virtual environment.

Overall, VR has the potential to provide patients with a unique and personalized stress reduction experience. By providing a safe and controlled environment, patients can engage in activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress, ultimately improving their overall wellbeing. At Blend, we have 5 hours of meditation-specific content in different relaxing settings, including guided meditations and breathing exercises.

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