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 and conservation.
You May Also Like
SEP 16, 2019
Space & Astronomy
SEP 16, 2019
Is SpaceX's Starlink Satellite Internet System Bad for Astronomy?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard something about the Starlink internet satellites that SpaceX recently sent to out...
SEP 16, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 16, 2019
Hydrogen, the Element of Our Energy Future? (Part I)
The year 2019 turns out to be a critical year for hydrogen.  Just before the G20 summit in Japan, the International Energy Agency (IEA), an OECD-affil...
SEP 16, 2019
SEP 16, 2019
'Smart Textiles' Significantly Boost Connectivity Between Wearable Sensors
In recent years, the focus on electronics was towards the development of sensors, displays and smart devices that work to seamlessly integrate onto the hum...
SEP 16, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 16, 2019
Time to Take Action on Spent EV Batteries
Currently, car batteries (also known as lead-acid batteries) are almost 100% recycled, with all components either directly reused, or broken down and turne...
SEP 16, 2019
SEP 16, 2019
The Best Way to Test Blood Pressure and Find Heart Disease
Heart disease causes hundreds of thousands of deaths annually -- can a new study on blood pressure tests guide doctors toward earlier diagnosis? About one ...
SEP 16, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
SEP 16, 2019
A Blood Drop Test for Rapid Detection of Traumatic Brain Injury
A study published by Yue et al., in August 2019, reported that a simple blood test (a few drops of blood) can detect traumatic brain injury efficiently and...
Loading Comments...