'The VR glasses are a nice addition to our toolbox when counseling children with cancer, from the age of six,' says medical educationalist and VR project leader, Tirza Schuerhoff. 'As a distraction but also for relaxation, children can choose their own VR world. We have a project in which we also evaluate the effect of VR on the preparation of a medical treatment.' Lianne (8): 'I only had the VR glasses as a distraction, mind you! The movies I liked best were: swimming with dolphins, walking with lions and flying in the air. I also went on the VR roller coaster but I found it quite intense. It is so real, it made me giddy.' Her parents say: 'We saw that Lianne went completely into another world. She waved her hands and moved along with the actions in the VR film. We were able to look into her world on a tablet, but not as lifelike as she saw everything.'
Tirza Schuerhoff: 'In addition to distraction and relaxation, we are investigating whether VR can contribute to the preparation for medical procedures. Recently two brand new preparation films were realized for VR about radiotherapy and (the preparation for) an MRI examination. In the VR film, for example, you walk into the MRI room and see everything around you from your perspective. The doors, walls, equipment and the lab technicians who are telling you something. In this way, children are prepared for a treatment to come.' These films are completely customized for the Máxima Center and portray true to life the environment the children will face. The results of the first year VR project are promising. ‘With 10 VR glasses and two VR preparation films, we can further improve care for reducing anxiety and stress in children with cancer. The project will look at the effects of VR on distraction but also on treatment preparation. This is being evaluated with the child themselves, parents and professionals’, says Tirza.
And then there is Lianne's sober assessment: 'The VR glasses help a little. I found it quite fun as a distraction.' That's because Lianne has her own preferences when it comes to medical procedures: she likes to be right there with them. If at all possible, she helps prepare tubes and wipes and when blood has to be taken she gets everyone to count from 10 to zero. And then... the operation is done!
The VR glasses are here thanks to the support of donors to the Princess Máxima Center Foundation.