WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Virtual reality headsets can be fun for games, but for patients at Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center, these headsets can be used to help kids prepare for something like an MRI or to distract them while they are getting an IV started.
“They’re playing with virtual reality, it’s a game version. It’s a medical hospital version, so it has specialized elements, specialized experiences for families and children to focus on, and a to help them with their procedures and hospital experiences,” Michele Erich, music therapist and specialist pediatrician, says. “You have many choices, but the one with the bakery is that you’re going to stack your donuts and you’re going to hear the sounds of MRI. And in an MRI, you have to stand still. So to be successful at the bakery, you also have to stand still, and you’re going to look visually at the stack of donuts. And if you move, the donuts are going to fall. So that helps the child learn this skill of standing still, as they hear the MRI sounds that are simulated in the VR glasses.
Erich has been a music therapist and child life specialist at the hospital for more than 20 years and she says this technology makes her job a little easier.
“Another experience may be feeling something wet on your hands or arm. And like someone is wiping themselves without an alcohol swab to clean a place where they are going to start an IV, you might feel or see little fish swirl around and they’re gonna come through your arm in the RV, what happens is the nurses start the IV, and they’re gonna feel the touch, and it’s gonna simulate like a little fish swimming near you because it’s is what they see,” Erich said.
Erich said obtaining this VR bundle would not have been possible without a large donation. The Pleasure Island Parrot Heads Club raised $8,000 earlier this year to donate the virtual reality headset to the hospital.
“When they told us they had one for two weeks, and it was their probationary period, and the stress levels dropped in the nurses and the children, we couldn’t have them, we we had to do it. It was the best thing we could do to give back to them,” said Jeanne Rietzke, president of the Pleasure Island Parrot Heads Club.
Since the donation, Erich said the children have been receiving the necessary treatment and procedures without the fear it used to bring.
“It helps them to tolerate this procedure and experience it without fear and to get the necessary medical help, medications and necessary treatments that they need for their health.”
To learn more about the Pleasure Island Parrot Heads Club or to donate, click here.
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