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Virtual reality helps ease pain and anxiety of young cancer patients

‚ÄčFor more than two years, the American Cancer Society has been working with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) on an innovative, relevant, and impactful virtual reality (VR) program designed to offer children battling cancer a highly enjoyable escape from the often scary, painful, and anxiety-causing cancer treatment protocols.

Ben Kaplan, senior director, digital products, and Rachel Cannady, strategic director, cancer caregiver support, led this initiative. Working closely with both staff at CHOA and Emory Healthcare, they introduced VR headsets to test the feasibility and efficacy of virtual reality technology being incorporated into pediatric treatment plans. The results have been overwhelmingly positive.

There's been more than 30 years of research behind the science of using VR for pain and anxiety management. Immersing someone in a virtual world decreases pain perception by diverting the brain's attention away from its pain signal-processing regions. 

Virtual reality is now one of many tools that Child Life Specialists use at CHOA to help manage the pain and suffering caused by cancer. Last fall we filmed this video highlighting the kids using the technology and the amazing results we've seen.  

Also, WSB-TV aired a story about the program. Watch it here.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to Ben Kaplan and Rachel Cannady

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