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Virtual game helps children escape realities of burn unit
Date:10/9/2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nurses and physicians at Nationwide Childrens Hospital are using the latest technology to help young burn victims endure the extreme pain of dressing changes and wound care. Instead of traditional distraction devices, such as books and music, Nationwide Childrens Hospital Burn Center is now using virtual reality games to distract patients while nurses attend to the patients burn wounds.

Its long been known that the actual treatment for a burn is far worse than the actual injury. Initially, the wound has to be cleaned and the dressing applied, and that can be a very painful and lengthy procedure, said Dr. Catherine Butz, PhD, a psychologist at Nationwide Childrens Hospital and an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Following this initial treatment, patients must endure subsequent wound care procedures, some of which can be both extensive and painful, depending on the extent of the burn. During these procedures, anxiety often plays a major role in the patients pain level.

Research shows a very strong connection between anxiety and pain, said Dr. Butz. Distraction does a great job in decreasing any kind of anxiety that might be associated with the anticipated procedures, so by distracting patients and keeping anxiety at a minimum, procedures tend to go much more smoothly and be much less painful for the child.

The device, made possible by a donation from the Aladdin Shriners Hospital Association for Children, allows patients to escape into a computer-generated world complete with its own environment, creatures and sounds. Patients wear a virtual reality helmet, and once in this new world, they interact in the virtual environment with the help of child life specialists, trained to assist kids through stressful medical treatments.

Since Nationwide Childrens Hospital began using the device in May 2007, it has already resulted in positive feedback
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Contact: Marti Leitch
mleitch@mediasourcetv.com
614-932-9950
Columbus Children's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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