Smileyscope virtual reality goggles for children at Hawkesbury District Health Service

CHILDREN visiting Hawkesbury hospital can now use virtual reality goggles that take them on underwater adventures, helping to reduce their pain and distress during short procedures.

The hospital is the first NSW St John of God Health Care arm to offer the ‘Smileyscope’ goggles to their youngest patients.

VIRTUAL REALITY FUN: Young patients will be offered the goggles to distract them while they are undergoing short procedures such as blood tests and removal of stitches. Picture: Supplied

VIRTUAL REALITY FUN: Young patients will be offered the goggles to distract them while they are undergoing short procedures such as blood tests and removal of stitches. Picture: Supplied

Hawkesbury District Health Service Chief Executive Officer Strephon Billinghurst said it was exciting to see how the virtual reality goggles helped to reduce pain and anxiety in children coming to hospital.

“The goggles are easy to use and fantastic to offer to our youngest patients while they undergo short procedures such as blood tests and removal of stitches,” he said.

“The experience guides children through a virtual underwater adventure prompting them to breathe deeply and calmly and to notice when a fish brushes their arm at the same time as when their clinician touches their arm to remove stitches.”

He said the first patients who had used the goggles at Hawkesbury hospital were visibly more relaxed, and their parents also said their anxiety levels were reduced as they knew their child was not distressed.

“It is great that we are able to offer this innovative new technology to our patients at Hawkesbury hospital and provide an excellent experience for our youngest patients,” Mr Billinghurst said.

The virtual reality googles take children on an underwater adventure, with the patient’s head guiding what they see while their clinician explains what to expect before and during the procedure.

St John of God Health Care Acting Group Director of Digital and Technology, Dr Alexius Julian, said the group was the first hospital provider in the world to offer the Smileyscope virtual reality goggles for children as a part of its routine care.

“We are really excited to offer this leading-edge technology to our patients wherever they are,” Dr Julian said.

“Our investment in this is a part of our commitment to transforming our hospitals by using innovative technology to enhance our patients’ experiences.”

The goggles will be available at the hospital for the next 12 months.

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