Post: Virtual reality headsets help calm French surgery patients

Virtual reality headsets help calm French surgery patients

A hospital in east France says the soothing virtual scenes help distract patients during long, painful operations

Virtual reality headsets are being used to help keep patients calm during long operations in a hospital in Nancy, Grand Est.

The headsets, which include goggles and headphones, are being used for operations in the vascular surgery unit at Ambroise-Paré hospital in Nancy, during which patients must stay still for many hours. While using the headsets, patients enter into a serene, 360-degree, virtual world which – the hospital has said – helps them stay calm and relieves pain.

One virtual scene, based in natural beauty spot la Camargue, begins with a video of flamingos standing in a body of water on a sunny day, as a breeze moves through the trees. As the video starts, a narrator says: “The weather is nice, and the temperature is perfect for you. Just as you like it.” Doctors can also time events in the virtual reality world to distract patients from painful procedures that are happening to them.

Dr Dauphin said: “At the moment when the doctor is about to give an injection, we create a distraction on the screen so that the [patient’s] mind can get away.”  A patient interviewed after an operation said: “I had no idea that they were using scalpels on me”.  The headsets have been in use in the private hospital since November 2020. 

Plans are now underway for them to be used in other departments, especially during operations to insert pacemakers.