PTSD and Pain reduction
Dr. Difede, is a Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Weill Medicine, an Attending Psychologist at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Director of the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies (PATSS). She is internationally recognized for her pioneering work using virtual reality technology in the treatment of PTSD consequent to the WTC attack of September 11, 2001, and more recently in the treatment of combat-related PTSD. Dr. Difede currently uses the Dolphin footage during a study where people undergoing treatment for burning wounds.
Thanks to the Norwegian Cancer Society cancer treatment for young Norwegians in need of a bone marrow transplant is a little less harsh. Post operative recovery entails isolation in a sterile tent for up to six weeks. Since late 2016 a set of VR Goggles and the 360 VR movie of the Dolphin Swim Club helps them to cope. Virtual wild dolphins don’t just help them to escape reality. They help them to live in it.
Learning disabilities and Autism
Clients of Dutch healthcare facility Heeren Loo (10,000 residents) can enjoy virtual reality in specially developed relaxation rooms. A study took place with a group of 55 residents with learning disabilities who were also suffering from very high-stress levels. 82% showed and reported a considerable improvement after experiencing the Dolphin Swim Club VR on a regular base. One man no longer experienced the chronic pains he continuously had in his arm. A girl with autism almost didn’t sleep for 4 years, but now she swims-with-the-dolphins before bedtime and redeveloped a healthy sleep pattern.
Children with Heart Disease and Anxiety in Hospitals
In March 2017 doctors at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford started a pilot study called “Project Braveheart” researching the effect of VR on anxiety and stress levels. 40 patients, youngsters in the age of 8 to 25, with congenital heart diseases take part. Using VR goggles patients can follow a tour guiding them along the exact path that will take place on the day of their procedure. Throughout the tour, patients can access relaxation programs like swimming with dolphins.
Burn victims undergoing painful dressing changes
Patients at Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, led by the local university, have been given VR headsets to allow them to immerse themselves in a scenario far from the clinical environment, with many saying that the VR distraction meant they felt less pain when having bandages changed.
Nurses at the hospital explained that for some patients the pain of cleaning and dressing wounds was so intense that they couldn’t tolerate it for long, and that the thought of undergoing that pain again could even trigger stress and anxiety. The principle behind the system is that humans only have so much ‘bandwidth’ available when trying to pay attention for things, so the VR grabs the attention of the patient and diverts it away from the pain they are feeling.