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For a child getting chemo, virtual reality games at hospital can feel like Disney

Seth Oliva’s favorite virtual reality simulation game takes him through the human body, where microscopic parts like red and white blood cells are so close, it feels like he can touch them.

“They help me to get my mind off of all the things that are happening to me,” says Seth of the virtual reality goggles, which immerse the 8-year-old in a 3D world where he can bowl, tour space or explore the human body.

Seth has T-cell lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that requires him to undergo chemotherapy sometimes three times a week. The second-grader, who attends Virginia A. Boone Highland Oaks Elementary, was diagnosed eight months ago at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, where he receives chemotherapy.

DiMaggio and other South Florida hospitals are using the latest in technologies, like virtual reality, live-streaming, and video games, to help kids have some fun before, during or after chemotherapy and other types of cancer treatments.

“There’s fear and anxiety of having to go through the procedure,” says Seth’s father, Miza Oliva. “So for him, it’s an all new experience that moves him beyond what just happened.”

Numerous studies published in The National Center for Biotechnology Information – part of the U.S. National Library of Medicine —show that virtual experiences help reduce anxiety and distract pain in pediatric patients who undergo harrowing medical procedures like stem-cell transplantation, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

By Caitlin Granfield | Miami Herald

Image Credit: Melissa Oliva/Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

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