The USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center has teamed with a nonprofit on a virtual reality initiative for patients in the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer program at USC (AYA@USC).
The initiative aims to provide a library of curated cinematic and interactive VR experiences using the most advanced media technology available to lessen a patient’s discomfort and anxiety with quality entertainment.
“The AYA@USC program aims to heal the whole person, not just the cancer,” said David Freyer, professor of clinical pediatrics and medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and co-director of AYA@USC. “The Virtual Reality Patient Initiative will provide an important emotional benefit to our patients that cannot be achieved through medicine alone.”
Photo/Courtesy of Springbok Cares
Virtual reality has the ability to take sick children from their hospital beds to far-away worlds, under the sea or on a rollercoaster, so where do they want to go?
“The young kids at The Alfred’s oncology ward told us they just wanted to be ‘anywhere but here’,” virtual reality maker Trent Clews-De Castella told The Huffington Post Australia.
He is co-creator of virtual reality company Phoria, that is creating experiences specifically for sick children in hospitals, thanks to a new grant from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
“We’re realising we don’t need to reinvent the wheel in terms of experiences so we’re looking at what’s proven in the medical space to have therapeutic benefits,” Clews De-Castella said.
Scoliosis, the abnormal twisting of the spine, affects millions of people around the world and is most common in children. Now, a 3D-printed back brace has been created to help prevent further curvature of the spine while looking and feeling more comfortable.
Designed by Studio Bitonti, the Align by UNYQ is a customisable and “breathable” brace that aims to be stylish, use fewer materials, and can be worn for multiple hours a day.
The Align is also able to help patients track their personal data, which can be used in the treatment process. To do this an Intel chip, said to be the size of a button, has been included in the brace.
As a nurse clinician in the comprehensive hemophilia treatment center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital for nearly 30 years, Charmaine Biega, RN, has watched her patients endure hundreds of needle sticks for infusions and other procedures which can mean tears, frustration, wiggling and – in some cases – lifelong anxiety about the medical system and treatments that patients with hemophilia need to survive. But when she administered six-year-old Brody Bowman’s infusion this month in clinic, he was doing something she had never seen him do before a needle stick: having fun.
That is because several of her patients are enrolled in a pilot study which is testing a first of its kind virtual reality experience developed by the hemophilia team and design experts from Nationwide Children’s and students from The Ohio State University. The virtual reality game, Voxel Bay, was specifically created for her patient population to fully engage them in an immersive environment of penguins, pirates and hermit crabs during infusions and other procedures.
“Brody just started getting his treatments through IV on a regular basis and was having a really rough time,” said Charmaine. “But the first time he used the game in clinic, he was so completely engaged in the game when the IV was administered, he just barely flinched. The difference in how patients react during a procedure when they are playing these interactive games is remarkable.”
By News Medical
The human heart is an engineering marvel. A two-sided pump, it coordinates the flow of blood into the lungs to pick up oxygen, and then out into the body to deliver it. In adults, the heart pumps 1.5 gallons of blood each minute and 1.5 million gallons over a lifetime. But in rare cases, babies are born with hearts so malformed and the vessels within them so abnormally routed that they cannot properly pump blood at all. Confronting such tough cases, surgeons like Emile Bacha, MD, director of congenital and pediatric cardiac surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Congenital Heart Center, have two options: Repair the baby’s heart by enlarging narrowed areas, closing errant holes, and realigning vessels, or conduct a palliative operation known as a Fontan procedure that leaves the infant with muchreduced heart function. The trouble is, a baby’s heart is difficult to image and the convolutions inside this pingpong ball-sized structure add to the complication. “You pretty much have to figure it out on the table,” Dr. Bacha says. When you do not know what you are getting into before you start, he adds, the chance for achieving a full repair is lessened.
Last summer, pediatric cardiologist Anjali Chelliah, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, brought just such a case to Dr. Bacha, the Calvin F. Barber Professor of Surgery. Her patient, still unborn at 35 weeks of gestation, had a rare form of a congenital heart malformation called double outlet right ventricle. Based on the maze of holes and abnormally connected vessels within, Dr. Bacha doubted that he would be able to fully repair the baby boy’s heart.
Dr. Chelliah came bearing a solution, however: What if they could use a 3-D printer to generate a perfect model so that Dr. Bacha could literally hold the infant’s heart in his hand, study its ins and outs, make some test cuts, and design a clear plan for the procedure before the baby entered the operating room? That prospect could revolutionize the outcome for these babies, Dr. Bacha says. “The technology is such an obvious marriage with what we need.”
By Alla Katsnelson | Columbia University Medical Center
Recently a surgery in China changed the life of a little baby who has been having a very rough go of it since birth. The eight-month-old boy was born with craniosynostosis, a condition affecting the structure of the cranium as the bones of the skull close before the brain has a chance to form completely. And as in this patient’s case, premature closure of the skull and resulting undue pressure are what can lead the head and the face itself to become distorted in shape or even unusually elongated.
Obviously, for aesthetic reasons, family and surgeons were seeking solutions for the tiny patient, known as Xiao Yu. But there was a much bigger medical picture looming, as without remedy, craniosynostosis can lead to serious health complications, most commonly as the normal growth pattern of the child’s cranium is inhibited. Beyond that, however, this can be a serious condition that in some cases is life threatening, as well as causing serious developmental delays and the possibility of seizures.
A 10-year-old Connecticut boy, named Dan, came home from a visit to his grandparents with a limp. No one thought much about it until Dan began to experience pain. Then a visit to an urgent care facility and an X-ray revealed that he had an osteosarcoma—a cancer—that was destroying the bone above his knee.
Dan’s mother, Terri Therriault, explained in a story by Susan Corica in the Bristol Press about her son that not so long ago Dan’s leg would have had to be amputated. Now, a new type of prosthesis, called the Stanmore JTS, which is designed specifically for children, means that Dan can have a knee replacement that will grow along with him.
“The one Dan is getting is custom made in the UK,” she said, “It is quite a technological marvel.” Once the prosthesis is implanted, every few months Dan will put his knee in an electromagnetic device that activates a gear box to lengthen the prosthesis slightly, without the need for further surgery. His mother said that her son refers to it as his “bionic knee.” He plans to get it sometime in April.