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Plugging kids into VR to ease pain

At Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, kids are donning VR goggles in lieu of sedation.

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Killing pain Virtual reality is swiftly being adopted at Stanford's children's hospital, used by doctors and nurses to help calm anxious children during routine procedures like changing bandages and inserting IVs. Children, some of whom had to be sedated to stay calm for these situations, are now distracted by the VR experience.

The hospital's Childhood Anxiety Reduction through Innovation and Technology program — CHARIOT, for short — has adopted VR technology for children as young as 6-years-old, according to the Stanford Medicine News Center. The hospital wants to see the use of VR goggles across the entire center so kids getting their immunizations and those getting ready for MRIs will be able to take advantage of the virtual distractions.

For those who've tried VR headsets and know how clunky they can be, Stanford's CHARIOT program has made additions to the VR goggles they use so they fit tiny heads comfortably. Next up, and already being used with select patients, are augmented reality headsets which overlays the way certain procedures are done, with the first on IVs. For children, virtual and augmented reality may send the old-fashioned lollipops out to the waiting room.

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