Research Summary

3-Dimensional nature-based therapeutics in pediatric patients with total pancreatectomy and isletauto-transplant

Children using a virtual reality device for nature-based therapy after extensive surgical procedures reported a decrease in pain, anxiety, and nausea

Complementary Therapies in Medicine

The use of Virtual Reality (VR) for pain and anxiety relief has proven effective in a variety of therapeutic settings. Reports of its use in pediatric intensive care, however, are scant. This proof of concept study aimed to demonstrate that the use of 3-D Nature-Based Therapy (NBT) glasses would be effective in reducing pain, nausea, and anxiety in children and adolescents undergoing Total Pancreatectomy Islet Auto-Transplant (TPIAT).

Six pediatric patients (ages 8–18) scheduled to receive TPIAT were recruited for this study. Four of the six used nature-based VR glasses during their medical procedures and related therapy. Of the other two, one chose to use other means of distraction and one chose not to use the device because of nausea-related concerns. All six of the pediatric patients completed pain, nausea, and anxiety scales before and after 11 medical encounters. The total duration of nature-based VR use was recorded in nine of the eleven instances. The average time of use was 25.6 minutes; the range 9–90 minutes. The participants also completed interviews three times during the course of the study: at the beginning, when released from the ICU, and at hospital discharge.

Assessment results showed a net decrease in symptom scores for pain, anxiety, and nausea after use of the nature-based VR glasses. All the patients using the glasses found the experience to be “enjoyable” and “helpful”. They indicated that they either “would” or “might use” the glasses again, and “would recommend it to others”.

Children participating in this study were able to use VR technology for nature-based therapy after extensive surgical procedures. Quantitative assessment results indicated overall improvement in symptom management, including a decrease in pain, anxiety, and nausea. While this study included only pediatric TPIAT patients, the researchers suggest that the results would be translatable to other types of postoperative patients. They recommend further research on the use of nature-based VR therapy with the pediatric population in a variety of settings.