Being in a hospital, ready to go into surgery, is an unsettling experience for some of us, while for others it is absolutely frightening. Until recently, dealing with anxiety and pain had only one solution: heavy medication. Now, new technologies help healthcare professionals offer better, innovative treatments. BELLA VR is one such innovative form of treatment– a virtual reality platform that helps patients relax and manage pain and anxiety without medication.
A Virtual Reality Platform to Literally Take Patients’ Pain Away
The concept behind the BELLA VR virtual reality platform is simple: patients can be distracted from pain by being immersed into a pleasant environment, where they feel safe and free to explore amazing worlds. As excitement sets in, dopamine runs through the body, acting as a natural anesthetic and stress relief medicine.
BELLA VR is not the first virtual reality platform used in a hospital setting, but it is certainly the most innovative. It has gaze-based navigation (the lenses monitor eye movement to replicate motion in the VR environment), it is very light weight (under one pound) and its special, non-porous padding is easy to clean and sanitize.
“We talked extensively with medical professionals who told us that the padding on the interior of other [VR] platforms is so soft that it is difficult to sanitize. BELLA can be cleaned using only a Sani-Wipe and is quickly ready to use again,” explained Reid Bangert, co-founder and president of Northpass Immersive, the company that developed Bella VR.
How Bella VR Works
BELLA VR consists of a special headset with three parts, one of them a Samsung smartphone. The software allows patients to choose between various virtual reality experiences, such as a hot air balloon trip over New Mexico, a ride in the gondola over Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, a canoe trip and a live quartet concert.
The experiences are available in English and Spanish, with subtitles for 15 other languages. Soon, a new VR experience will be available: Find Fiona, an interactive game in which users are supposed to find a baby elephant which appears in various playful and pleasant settings.
Virtual Reality and Pain Management
Using a virtual reality platform to deal with pain and anxiety is not really an experimental trial. Various scientific studies have established a link between immersive experiences and a decreased level of anxiety and pain. With Bella VR, Northpass Immersive is trying to put this innovative concept into a form that is both easy for hospital staff to use and enjoyable for patients.
A family owned company, created by father Kurt Bangert (CEO) and son Reid Bangert (president), Northpass Immersive is based in Kansas City, MO, and is focused on developing innovative tools and experiences to help patients escape the confines of hospital rooms and face medical procedures calmly and without pain.