Diablo magazine writes about UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and its innovative use of virtual reality technology to help both patients and their families—the first hospital in the country to do so.
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (PRWEB) September 30, 2019
Dr. Kurtis Auguste is a pediatric neurosurgeon at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, and he uses virtual reality (VR) technology to prepare and plan for his surgeries. When compared to the two-dimensional, thin, vertical segments of an MRI, the 3D replica of the entire area in question is a game changer. Now, he is sharing that technology with patients and their families prior to surgery to educate and reassure them. Read the entire story here.
Using a virtual reality system called Surgical Theater, Dr. Auguste can put on a headset and “fly” into a 3D model of a young patient’s brain. The patient and his or her parents are invited to a pre-operative session where they all wear goggles and are able to watch and individually interact with the visual experience. Dr. Auguste, represented by an avatar wearing a white doctor’s coat, serves as tour guide. Using hand controls to glide around, they can see blood vessels, vision fibers, and even tumors or aneurysms. Dr. Auguste plots his point of entry for surgery and how best to remove threatening tissue abnormalities. Patients and their families benefit from a visual introduction to the cause of the patient’s medical condition and the knowledge of exactly how Dr. Auguste intends to operate on it. This exercise brings great calm and confidence to patients, helping them focus on a successful surgery and future recovery.
“It’s very empowering, because you can see things that were otherwise hidden,” Dr. Auguste says, “It makes me think back to all of the difficult surgeries I’ve ever done. If only I’d had this technology before, I wonder how much easier those experiences might have been.”
Dr. Auguste sees many applications for the future use of VR technology in the medical field, including but not limited to educating patients and medical staff, serving as a rehab and recovery monitoring tool, and training international teams of surgeons and medical staff.
Virtual reality also helps young patients manage pain and stress. Patients at UCSF Benioff Children’s can slip on a headset and enter an underwater experience called KindVR Aqua. Simon Robertson, the founder of KindVR in Alameda, says the technology allows patients to interact with dolphins and whales, which introduces a distraction, and helps them reduce the perception of pain and even potential opioid consumption.
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