Grants

"We are merging radiation oncology with outside technology to provide patients with an attention-grabbing experience that allows them to escape from the reality of a necessary but uncomfortable treatment." Zachary D. Horne, MD, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

Use of Virtual Reality Immersion to Decrease Pain, Anxiety, and PTSD Associated with Pelvic Brachytherapy in Women with Gynecological Cancers

Grant Application

Zachary D. Horne, MD, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC

Proposed Innovation

Brachytherapy, which delivers radiation inside the body close to the tumor, is an essential treatment for women with cervical and uterine cancers. A typical brachytherapy regimen requires 5 separate insertions into the vagina over several weeks. Although beneficial, the treatment often causes patients to feel anxiety as well as pain and embarrassment.

The goal of this project is to help patients at Magee-Womens Hospital escape the trauma of treatment by immersing them in the virtual reality of a computer game.

Improvements in Action

Through this pilot project, a virtual reality goggle set and operating system will be used to provide patients with an immersion experience that will distract them from the invasive procedure. Several gaming programs will be used in order to identify those that are most effective in reducing pain and anxiety.

Results – In Progress

An analysis will determine the effectiveness of the virtual reality immersion experience. Patient feedback will be used to measure the impact on reducing anxiety, pain, patient satisfaction, and post-traumatic stress.