This hospital found a way to make giving kids shots easier

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VR game for hemophilia patients

Photo via Nationwide Children's Hospital

Being scared of needles is understandable. These docs think they can help.

Kids need shots. Kids hate shots. This is the way of the world.

But kids with the blood disorder hemophilia have to endure multiple rounds of needles every week for blood transfusions to prevent serious joint damage, so their anxiety about the procedure is amplified. Now doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital have teamed up with in-house “Interactive Architect” Jeremy Patterson to come up with a virtual reality solution to this actual reality problem.

A pilot study with hemophilia experts and Ohio State students lets kids getting their treatments immerse themselves in the VR world of Voxel Bay, “an immersive environment of penguins, pirates and hermit crabs.” But most importantly, they can’t really be fiddling with a controller while a nurse tries to insert an IV, so the game is controlled by the player’s eye and head movements—and even their breath.

“That’s extremely important,” Patterson said in a press release. “Whether it’s getting an infusion, a blood draw or lab work, these patients really can’t use their hands, so there needed to be a different way to control the games.”

So far, the results have been positive.

“I have made lots of games and know what appeals to kids and what doesn’t, but creating something that has actually helped children have a better patient-experience, there is nothing greater than that,” Patterson told Science Daily.

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