Virtual reality helps kids in hospital

Local News

Understandably, most kids who have to be in a hospital wish they were anywhere else. But there’s one hospital they may actually enjoy.

Patients there can catch basketballs, fish, or zap hamburgers in space. All courtesy of virtual reality.

Brayden Eidenshink knew the routine of a hospital. He’s been in and out of them for much of his young life. Brayden got a new heart.

It wasn’t easy but there’s one bright spot to ease the pain and worry…virtual reality.

“It distracts him from what they’re doing around him,” said Brenda Eidenshink Brayden’s Mom. “He would put the goggles on and they’d numb him up and then the IVs done. It helped ease his worry of the pain.”

They call it ‘The Chariot Program.’

“It stands for childhood, anxiety reduction through innovation and technology,” said Dr. Thomas Caruso, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. “It’s a program where we utilize traditional technologies such as tablets, mobile, virtual reality headsets.”

“We have many cases where we’re able to decrease the amount of sedatives, pain medication and even anesthesia,” said Dr. Sam Rodriguez, from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

The program has videos to aid with anesthesia, screens that play entertainment during pre-op, and virtual reality games. Brayden was a fan of Space Pups and Space Burgers.

“It’s hard to take them off because they’re so addicting,” said Brayden.

“They have to be involved. They have to move their body. They have to move their head to play the game. So, they’re so focused on that that they kind of forget what’s actually happening,” said Molly Pearson, Child Life Specialist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

Keenan Espiritu, who’s been a patient at the hospital for more than two years, also appreciates the escape.

“It helps me forget like I’m in the hospital,” he said. “It feels like I’m somewhere else.”

“It can completely transform their experience here,” said Dr. Caruso.

The technology developed by the Chariot Program is being used throughout Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford as well as at other hospitals nationwide.

We are sorry to report that young Brayden died from heart transplant complications after this story was finished.

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