Samsung Gear VR: Using Virtual Reality As Distraction Therapy For Cancer Patients
by Rae Johnston
Video: Start VR has teamed up with Samsung Australia to introduce virtual reality as a form of "distraction therapy" to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse Cancer Hospital.
Patients were provided with Samsung Gear VR headsets and the option to select an experience, ranging from a relaxing travel destination, plunging off an airplane in a skydiving stimulating experience, taking a boat ride through the Sydney Harbour, snorkeling through sparkling blue waters and petting Koalas at a zoo.
The initiative was spearheaded by Start VR's Head of Content Martin Taylor, who collaborated with Chris O'Brien Lifehouse and Samsung Australia to bring the partnership to life.
"Our main goal is to create compelling virtual reality content and initiatives that make a positive impact on the lives of consumers," Taylor says.
Taylor says Start VR wanted to work out if VR had the potential to change people's outlook on their current environment, and felt that a healthcare setting - where people sit and wait for periods of time, worried about unknown outcomes - would be the right place to start.
"Though after months of theory and planning, the true reward was meeting these incredible patients and seeing them experience instant joy through the power of VR," Taylor says.
"Exploring the application of VR in healthcare, highlights an exciting pathway for this burgeoning medium and we are proud to leverage what we are learning to continually push boundaries in VR content creation."
Thriving on the inclusion of cutting edge research, discoveries and uncompromising care, Chris O'Brien Lifehouse embraced virtual reality as a treatment support option for their patients and had clinical staff guiding and supervising to ensure patient safety.
"Allowing patients to escape the experience of chemotherapy gives them a bit of space to forget what’s going on," says Chris O'Brien Lifehouse Complementary Therapy Director Michael Marthick.
"In settings such as before surgery, patients are even more anxious. This gives them a distraction and allows them to keep their spirits up. Wellness isn’t just about the physical side of things, it's also about mental wellbeing."
"This collaboration with Start VR and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse breaks new ground in the way the immersive nature of our virtual reality platform can be applied to a healthcare environment," says Martin Brown, Head of Alliances and Enterprise Mobility at Samsung Electronics Australia.
"We see collaborations with partners like Start VR, and organisations like the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, as critically important to developing tangible ways for our technology to benefit organizations across a wide range of sectors."