MAR 09, 2018 10:05 AM PST

BELLA: Easy VR Immersion for Pain Reduction

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Virtual reality offers immersive journeys that can sometimes calm the nerves and reduce the psychological aspect and experience of pain. In late February 2018, Kansas City-based Northpass Immersive introduced BELLA VR, a simple VR system that is designed for use in medical settings. It offers both relaxing and distracting (game oriented) activities for patients. Along with a specialized Samsung phone and app, it has only two parts and is designed to be easy-to-clean.

BELLA VR, credit: Northpass Immersive

"We are seeing a lot of interest in Pre-Op, in the ER and in the oncology unit. For us, it was all about going beyond the hospital walls. If we could transport a patient to Banff National Park or a beautiful beach in the Caribbean, we could make the entire healthcare BELLA VR, credit: Northpass Immersiveexperience a more positive and engaging one,” Northpass Immersive co-founder and CEO Kurt Bangert said in a press release.

Benefits of BELLA VR

BELLA VR provides patients with several options for relaxing, entertaining and diverting themselves, including a canoe trip, a hot-air balloon ride over New Mexico, a live quartet concert, a gondola ride up the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park, and a “Where’s Waldo?” -style of game called Find Fiona, featuring a baby elephant. It uses gaze-based viewing, meaning that it responds to users’ eye movements to control motion through the scenes, which removes the need for hand controllers. It also has a trait called auto-horizon adjust. This means that it will automatically calibrate the scene to match a user’s position; for example, patients who need to lie down for a treatment will have an uninterrupted VR experience. This new medical sector VR solution is multilingual as well.

BELLA VR is lighter than many VR systems – it weighs less than a pound. It has a headset and headphones but no cords, wires, computers or carts. This allows it to move easily and be put on quickly. It also features an easily-cleanable non-porous surface.

“BELLA can be cleaned using only a Sani-Wipe and is quickly ready to use again," Bangert said, noting that this was a primary focus for the healthcare providers the company consulted with while developing the product.

Other VR Medical Applications

Using VR to soothe or distract patients from painful and distressing experiences is a growing field. For example, the University of Washington Harborview Burn Center has been testing the therapeutic applications of VR since the 90s. Their team has found offering VR immersion alongside traditional pain reduction techniques such as opioids reduces the pain levels for burn patients, ranging from children to war vets. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital uses VR games to boost children’s morale who are undergoing extended hospital stays. VR has also been shown to be helpful and pain-relieving during dental procedures and following surgery.

“We need alternatives for opioid pain treatment. Psychological therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness are effective, but most of our patients won't practice these like they need to, so they are of limited utility for us. VR is easy to do. Put a visor on and you're there,” Dr. Ted Jones, who has studied VR as a treatment for chronic pain, told Clinical Pain Advisor.

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
You May Also Like
DEC 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 23, 2019
The Trouble With the InSight Mission's Burrowing Mole Explained
NASA’s InSight mission is designed to probe the red planet’s internal physical characteristics, including heat emanating from its core and Mars...
JAN 15, 2020
Technology
JAN 15, 2020
Can A Computer Identify You By How You Dance?
We have heard of face and voice recognition software programs that work to ensure the identity of someone. But, now researchers are indicating that the way...
FEB 06, 2020
Technology
FEB 06, 2020
3D Skin Printer Promotes Healing
Researchers at the University of Toronto Engineering, Sunnybrook developed a new handheld 3D printer that can deposit sheets of skin to cover large burn wo...
MAR 10, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAR 10, 2020
(Stop) Putting Crap into Graphene Research
In a recently published study, a group of Czech Republic researchers from the puts together two materials that are unlikely to appear in the same place: gu...
MAR 11, 2020
Technology
MAR 11, 2020
Can Technology Decrease Your Food Intake?
Technology is believed to reduce food intake according to a new study recently published in the Journal of Nutrition.  “When 119 young adults co...
MAR 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 22, 2020
Critical Sample Handling Equipment is Installed on the Perseverance Rover
It was only a couple of weeks ago that NASA’s Mars 2020 rover got renamed to the Perseverance rover, and with a launch opportunity rapidly approachin...
Loading Comments...