Virtual reality could help kids overcome their fear of needles
Christchurch-based oVRcome, of which software developer Adam Hutchinson is the sole director and major shareholder, has started a program that uses virtual reality to expose children and teens to their fears, including needles.
Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a situation or experience that can be interacted with through special electronic equipment such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves equipped with sensors.
Christchurch-based clinical psychologist Catherine Gallagher, a specialist in treating anxiety in children and adolescents, worked with Hutchinson on the program and believes in overcoming fears, not avoiding them.
“Accessing resources in either the public or private sector has become increasingly difficult and so programmes like this allow people to virtually step into this therapeutic space in a supported and safe way without having to wait until things have escalated to really problematic levels.”
Young children underwent a psycho-educational component before beginning the virtual reality programme.
Gallagher said the children gained knowledge, understanding and coping skills by learning why they were afraid and giving them the skills to manage.
“Children face particular issues – the return to school, environments that they may feel they want to avoid having been home in their bubble – and of course having to have vaccinations.”
Parents could join their child in the program through a dashboard and selecting VR simulations based on the situations and environments that most affected their child.
Hutchinson said the program was ideal for young digital natives.
“They are used to collaborating and creating with classmates and teachers, using technology and immersive learning environments.”
Parents can join their child in the program by ways of a dashboard and choosing VR simulations based on the conditions and environments that most affected their child.