The Hospital for Sick Children, a large pediatrics hospital in Toronto, Canada, has expanded its virtual reality offerings for patients.

Thanks to a partnership with technology giant Samsung, The Hospital for Sick Children (often referred to as SickKids), has received assistance to create a space dedicated to virtual and augmented reality. Patients and their families may have the opportunity to utilize this unique facility during hospital stays, with the latest in Samsung VR technology – the Samsung Gear mobile VR device. Aimed at facilitating play as part of SickKids commitment to patient well-being, the 9th floor location offers virtual trips to outer space and augmented reality mobile games.

We’ve seen some interesting uses of virtual reality and augmented reality in health like this recently. Stanford recently launched a suite of virtual reality apps for health around pediatric heart disease. King’s College in London is using virtual reality to prepare kids for MRI. And now the Hospital for Sick Kids is integrating it into a more holistic care model for hospitalized children.

This isn’t SickKids first foray into the realm of VR and healthcare. The hospital has also used VR to reduce pre-procedure anxiety in many children, and noted considerably positive responses to the technology (Sharar et al, 2007). They have even helped develop a custom VR mobile app, designed to be used in Google Cardboard devices, called Childlife VR. Operating rooms, recovery rooms, xray suites, and more are included in the app, allowing users to become familiar with the sights and sounds of these often strange, anxiety-provoking environments beforehand.

Studies have noted children report an increased sensation of presence in VR, indicating a high degree of immersion. This allows for VR to offer considerable usefulness in the pediatric population, be it for encouraging activity amongst those with burn injuries, or providing pain relief. It’s great to see yet another healthcare facility using the latest technology for patients’ wellbeing and health.