Nervousness is natural to feel when preparing for a medical procedure, particularly among adolescents with Pediatric Health, Medicine and Therapeutics reporting that several studies indicate that 50% to 75% of pediatric patients suffer from preoperative stress. The Before, Inc. Surgery Prep Virtual Reality Experience allows patients to rehearse their medical procedures through an immersive VR experience, helping to reduce anxiety. Saritasa worked closely with Before, Inc. to design a proof of concept (in which players help an animal friend, a narwhal, get ready for surgery in a hospital pre-op room and accompany the narwhal to the operating room) that would be used to secure interest and funding for a full-scale patient surgery preparation platform.
- The Before, Inc. Surgery Prep Virtual Reality Experience resulted from a personal experience Dr. W. Scott Comulada, a co-founder of Before, Inc., had when his young daughter had to undergo a minor surgery, and she was overwhelmed with feelings of fear and anxiety. Since virtual reality is more immersive than 2D mediums, like videos or pictures in books, it allows for a better opportunity to visualize and rehearse before upcoming events, like medical procedures.
- Balancing the appropriate level of realism was crucial to creating a successful pre-surgery prep tool. Extremely realistic surgery simulations already exist on the market but can be too scary or clinical, heightening feelings of anxiety. On the other hand, the environments could not be too cartoony either, or they’d appear more entertainment-driven than educational.
- The initial version provides an interactive overview of a pre-op and operating room, plus the necessary equipment, with a friendly narwhal that demonstrates the patient experience.
- The virtual reality experience was built in Unity by an experienced team of 3D designers and developers for the Oculus Quest 2 headset. The user will be accompanied by a specialist who will view the experience via a monitor.
- The Before, Inc. Surgery Prep Virtual Reality Experience is currently under consideration for participation in three different studies at the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital with pediatric patients, the Cottage Children’s Medical Center in Santa Barbara with pediatric patients, and OC Autism in Orange County, California with neurodiverse clients who visit the center.
- Please reach out to sabrina@saritasa with an email associated with a Meta Quest headset to get access to the experience.