Florida pediatrician using VR, presence to offer ‘flinch free vaccine experience’

[This story from WPTV is about a variation on the increasingly well-regarded idea of using distraction via presence to ease the experience of pain (e.g., see Kenney and Milling’s recent meta-analysis). The original story features two videos including the 2:35 minute news report, which is also available on YouTube. –Matthew]

Boca Raton pediatrician’s office offers ‘flinch free vaccine experience’

Stephanie Susskind
Dec 27, 2016

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Imagine being transported off the ground or even out of this world, all while sitting in your doctor’s office.

That’s what one Palm Beach County pediatrician is doing for his patients to ease their fears about getting a shot.

Dylan Perlin, 11, got a booster shot and didn’t even know it, because he was wearing virtual reality goggles.

“It was really weird, I felt like I was between outer space and the earth’s atmosphere. I felt nothing. All I felt was cold and buzzing and then it was done!” said Dylan.

Dr. Chad Rudnick at VIPediatrics in Boca Raton now uses the virtual reality goggles to give patients what he calls the “flinch free vaccine experience.”

“If we can reduce the level of anxiety or needle phobia or needle anxiety, that’s what we want to do,” said Rudnick.

The goggles work with cellphone apps to transport your little boy or girl to another world.

Rudnick said kids get so engaged with what they’re seeing, they don’t notice that prick on their arm they were so afraid of. He says the technology could go beyond pediatrics.

“Using this technology might be able to make blood draws easier, it might make injections for other kinds of medications easier for an adult and for a child and for a lot of this, I think this is where technology and healthcare is going,” said Rudnick.

He says the idea actually came from one of his patients who brought his own goggles to the office.

“We put them on, and he was on a roller coaster. And we went through the whole process, and I gave him his shot and he didn’t flinch.   His mom said, ‘Did that really happen?’ And I said, ‘It’s done, he didn’t feel a thing.’ A light bulb went off.  I said, ‘Wait a minute. Was that just once or is this really going to work?’” said Rudnick.

So far, it’s been working quite well.  Rudnick has used the virtual reality goggles with about two dozen patients and every time, it’s successful.  It’s even left Dylan asking when he could get another shot!

Rudnick said he bought the virtual reality goggles online for about $100 and each virtual reality app is a few dollars.

He says to his knowledge, his practice is the only one using this technology, but he hopes to see it catch on at other practices.

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