VR software as pain medication? Ground-breaking study backs novel approach

2021-08-20 15:46:25 - United States, Massachusetts, Cambridge - (PR Distribution™)

In any children’s hospital, just follow the screaming to find the phlebotomy unit.

Needles are traumatic for children. They are the most feared part of a child’s healthcare experience and they are a major problem for the medical system. If is child is distressed during a needle procedure, it can make it impossible to get vital medical information, or administer critical medicines. It’s estimated this causes $1.5 billion in wasted healthcare spending in the U.S. each year. Poorly managed childhood procedures can have lifelong consequences, including anxiety, healthcare avoidance, vaccine avoidance and complications from delaying healthcare access.

Now, a ground-breaking study in the emerging field of ‘digital therapeutics’ offers a solution: Virtual Reality (VR) carefully designed to match the medical procedure.  

A randomized controlled trial of 252 children (aged 4-11 years) getting blood tests and intravenous cannulation found using VR can decrease pain by up to 60%, decrease distress by up to 75% and halves the need for restraints. VR was effective in both the emergency department and outpatient phlebotomy. This is the largest and most rigorous trial ever done using VR for a medical procedure.

Published in the prestigious The Journal of Pediatrics, this study subjected ‘software as a drug’ to the rigorous standards of peer-reviewed, data-driven clinical science.

Smileyscope was developed by two physicians who wanted to improve their own medical procedures. Smileyscope’s underwater VR adventure uses patented technology to synchronize perfectly with medical procedures. When clinicians are cleaning the needle site, patient sees waves lapping at their arms. That needle prick? Just a fish nibbling!

Adele Ormbsy’s 8 year-old son Brodie has a chronic medical condition and requires frequent medical procedures. In anticipation of a recent needle procedure she reported that “Brodie was anxious, crying and extremely worried about the needle.” Doctors were so concerned that they had booked a general anesthetic, but this was avoided when Smileyscope VR was used. “It took his mind off the procedure and calmed him completely,” she said.

 “The whole encounter changes for the patient, the family, and the staff- suddenly it can be part of a game and not another medical intervention,” affirms Dr. Jose Prince, the System Chief of Acute Care Surgery and Pediatric Surgery at Northwell Health, New York.

“Millions of needles are performed every day. These results demonstrate that Smileyscope’s VR outperformed current tertiary standard-of-care for these often-traumatic procedures. Needles are a huge concern for children, parents and clinicians, and Smileyscope can transform these encounters,” explains Dr. Evelyn Chan, pediatrician and the CEO of Smileyscope.

Smileyscope’s award-winning VR experience has been enthusiastically adopted by clinicians at top hospitals and clinics in Australia and the U.S. In the study, 92% of children and 93% of caregivers wanted Smileyscope for their next procedure.


About Smileyscope

Smileyscope is a leading healthcare technology company. Smileyscope has won multiple awards including a Webby (Winner – 2019), the Pediatric Impact Health competition at South By Southwest (Winner – 2019), and the University of California at San Francisco Stanford Pediatric Accelerator Shark Tank (Gold Prize – 2019). Jointly headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. and Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Smileyscope was founded by two physicians and is generously supported by the Australian Government through an Accelerating Commercialisation grant.

Media Contacts:

Full Name
Evelyn Chan
Phone Number
+1 917 284 2596
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