Tapping VR to ease anxiety

Mages Studio growth strategist Vrinda Bahl, SGH genetic counsellor Carol Loi and National Cancer Centre medical social worker Ng Yong Hao, with the headset that aims to reduce anxiety in patients facing surgery.
Mages Studio growth strategist Vrinda Bahl, SGH genetic counsellor Carol Loi and National Cancer Centre medical social worker Ng Yong Hao, with the headset that aims to reduce anxiety in patients facing surgery.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Once they slide on a headset, anxious patients waiting to be operated on will be transported to a calming and wholly different environment.

A team of seven technology, research and healthcare professionals, led by Dr Peter Mack from the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), aims to reduce fear and anxiety in patients before and after surgery.

The team has conceptualised Beat Anxiety, using augmented and virtual reality (VR) technology, to immerse patients in 3D-modelled environments of their choice, ranging from beaches to the mountains.

Said SGH genetic counsellor and team member Carol Loi: "Fear of anaesthesia, surgery, pain and even being unconscious could lead to extended hospital stays for patients and increase the risk of infection after the operation."

Transporting patients to a neutral environment may reduce their psychological stress, she added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2018, with the headline 'Tapping VR to ease anxiety'. Print Edition | Subscribe