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New study launched into virtual reality as therapy for end of life care

Author: Leila Hawkins
14 September 2017

Royal Trinity Hospice in south London has launched a research study to explore the potential of virtual reality as therapy for people at the end of life.

The year long study, run in partnership with film production company Flix Films, will assess the impact of virtual reality (VR) on people’s physical and psychological symptoms.

VR is a technology that generates realistic 3D and 360-degree images and sounds that give the viewer a sense of physical presence in that environment, by using a headset and headphones.

Existing research has found that VR can help reduce anxiety, post-traumatic stress and pain in people living with a variety of conditions, including children with cancer and people with burn wounds. However this new research is the first of its kind to assess the possible therapeutic benefit of VR for people receiving palliative care.

Letizia Perna-Forrest, Head of Patient and Family Support at the hospice said:

“Our initial trials with VR enabled people to achieve their bucket list wishes from their bed in the hospice, like walking in the desert or seeing the northern lights. But the more we researched into the world of VR, the more we felt there was scope to use this as therapy.”

“Through our study we aim to understand how VR impacts on the symptom management of people receiving palliative care.  We believe VR has the potential in future to be included in the holistic suite of supportive therapies, alongside counselling, reiki, art therapy and physiotherapy.” 

For more information visit Royal Trinity Hospice

See more articles in Research

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