Progress of virtual reality technology in hospice care


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HONG KONG, April 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — WIMI Hologram Academy, working in partnership with the Holographic Science Innovation Center, has written a new technical article describing their exploration of virtual-reality-application in the field of hospice care, and some other relative applications. This article follows below:

Virtual reality, which is also called VR technology, is a modern technology means with computer technology as the core, which can create a three-dimensional virtual world through special input/ output devices. It allows users to interact naturally with the virtual reality world, through the feedback of various sensory channels such as visual, auditor, and tactile perception, with three typical characteristics of immersion, interaction, and imagination. With the development of recent years, virtual reality technology, as a computer simulation system that can create and experience the virtual world, has become an effective auxiliary treatment and has been widely used in the field of medical care. The project research focuses on pain management, psychological care, sports rehabilitation, and education teaching.

The research progress of virtual reality technology in hospice care was summarized by searching the global research literature, from the perspectives of the types and equipment of virtual reality technology, symptom management, advance care planning, family grief counseling, and nursing team training. Scientists who are from WIMI Hologram Academy of WIMI Hologram Cloud Inc. (NASDAQ: WIMI), discussed Virtual Reality technology has important applications in hospice care to reduce pain, anxiety, and depression at the end of life; develop hospice care teams, and improve the effectiveness of advance care plans and family counseling. With the maturity of virtual reality technology, virtual reality technology should be applied and studied in hospice care.

In recent years, virtual reality technology has been applied to the field of hospice care, and related applications have been reported globally. Based on it, the application progress of virtual reality technology in the field of hospice care is summarized to promote the application of virtual reality technology.

1. The sorts and devices of VR technology

There are four main types of virtual reality technologies used in the medical care field: desktop virtual reality system, immersive virtual reality system, enhanced virtual reality system and distributed virtual reality system. The desktop virtual reality system is the virtual realm within 360 through the computer screen and uses the mouse, touch screen, and other tools to interact with it. An immersive virtual reality system uses a head-mounted display (HMD), interactive controller, and other devices to make users temporarily isolated from the real environment, and interact with the virtual environment, to achieve the feeling of being fully engaged and immersive. In addition to simulating the real world, augmented virtual reality systems also use some physical objects to enhance users’ feelings about the real environment.

2. Application status of virtual reality technology in the field of hospice care

2.1 effectiveness of Promoting the symptom management and advanced care planning planning

2.1.1 Relief of pain symptoms

For patients at the end of life, pain is often the most common and important clinical symptom due to disease progression and multiple organ failure, and pain control is one of the primary tasks of hospice care. Studies have been randomized to control 120 adult pain patients, including tumor patients, comparing the effects of virtual reality pain dispersion experience with two-dimensional guided relaxation of natural videos on patients’ pain perception. The study concluded that virtual reality can significantly reduce patient pain, and is the most effective for intense pain. The above study shows that virtual reality distracts patients by providing multi-sensory information to relieve pain. Compared with traditional distraction, virtual reality immersion is more distracting, and virtual reality can be used as an effective adjuvant treatment for pain.

2.1.2 Improve anxiety and depression

The most obvious psychological negative emotions in patients at the end of life are anxiety and depression, especially in patients with tumors. A study of 12 adult patients with life-limited diseases with a 30 min virtual reality experience using VR headset displays and other software, including 360 photos and meditation, showed reduced anorexia and improved pain, fatigue, depression, and anxiety. A questionnaire was also used, and the subjects considered the VR system easy to operate and both enjoyable and useful. It can be seen that virtual reality can help patients to create various immersive positive psychological correction situations, to play psychological counseling, and reduce negative emotions.

2.1.3 Promote the effectiveness of advance care planning

Advance care planning (ACP) is an important part of hospice care, which aims to respect the patient’s independent choice and assist patients to receive appropriate and high-quality protection at the end of life. For people, especially in the background of human’s “death taboo” culture, it is not easy to decide on the End-of-life. So promoting the effectiveness of advance care plans is essential. Once recruited 160 subjects over 20 for a randomized controlled trial, the observation group watched a 6 min 360 virtual reality video on portable virtual reality headphones, to feel the complete clinical process of COPD patients, and then completed a questionnaire about their survey of five medical options. The results showed that the observation group was able to better clarify their end-of-life medical preferences and decisions. Due to the comprehensiveness of the clinical information and scenes presented by the virtual reality, the deficiencies of the traditional handouts and oral communication forms are supplemented, to help the patients to feel the medical knowledge and environment more truthfully and accurately. But the study participants were mostly highly educated young adults without chronic conditions or life-threatening conditions, and their choices may differ from older adults with chronic life-limiting conditions.

2.2 Sad guidance for family members

The task of hospice care also includes providing support for families in lost, sad, and mourning periods. Many caregivers worry or fear the death of patients, have resistance and fear of death, and feel anticipatory sadness. A hospice virtual reality documentary film has been shot worldwide, recording the lives of the dying people in the form of a virtual reality panorama, allowing the family members to experience the various processes of dying and the meaning of life, eliminating the fear of hospice care , increase the coping ability and reduce the anticipatory sadness. Especially in the COVID-19 pandemic, relatives cannot accompany patients at the end of life, which will cause psychological pain to relatives and may last for a lifetime. Virtual reality technology can break the traditional video communication boundaries through remote interaction with dying patients and bring psychological care and comfort to relatives.

2.3. Cultivate a hospice care team

In recent years, the demand for hospice care is increasing, which is bound to cultivate the ability and quality of nursing staff and improve the quality of care. There was an experiment for medical students to experience the aging experience of elderly Alzheimer’s disease patients from a first-person perspective in a virtual reality environment. It also included end-of-life dialogue, which improved students’ empathy ability and understanding of health problems in the elderly. There was an experiment for medical students to experience the aging experience of elderly Alzheimer’s disease patients from a first-person perspective in a virtual reality environment. It also included end-of-life dialogue, which improved students’ empathy ability and understanding of health problems in the elderly. These findings suggest that the creation of interprofessional education in palliative care in a VR environment helps students to communicate effectively and enhance their awareness of interprofessional teamwork. In addition, students stated that the virtual world is a comfortable place to learn palliative care skills before facing real patients with complex, difficult situations, without having to worry about causing harm to patients during the learning process.

2.4 Adverse reactions may occur in the virtual reality environment

Virtual reality scenarios may cause network diseases such as dizziness and nausea, which occur in a small proportion of patients using VR technology, and a longer exposure time is associated with a higher risk of network diseases. It is recommended that the use of headphones is around 10 min, and future studies are necessary to choose the appropriate intervention time to prevent network diseases.

2.5. Post-stage maintenance and management of the virtual reality system

First of all, the hygiene of the equipment between users, such as the use of alcoholic wipes on the foam frame touching the face, will not affect the integrity of the foam; To avoid direct contact with the equipment, whether the use of disposable sanitary film cover will not affect the experience effect. Secondly, virtual reality technology is not a one-time investment. How to upgrade and improve the virtual reality system in the later stage are all the problems that we need to solve in the future. Under the existing VR software system resources, nurses should participate in the development and design of the VR software system to meet the specific needs of users and make the experience more personalized.

3. Conclusion

Because of its unique advantages, virtual reality has important applications in the field of hospice care: helping patients at the end of life to reduce pain, anxiety, and depression; It helps develop hospice care teams, and it also improves the effectiveness of advanced care plans and family counseling. However, at the same time, the application of virtual reality in the field of hospice care also has its limitations. The current research lacks large-sample randomized controlled trials, the prevention of network diseases in the virtual reality environment, and the maintenance and management of the virtual reality system in the later stage. With the maturity of virtual reality technology, virtual reality technology should be applied in the field of hospice care in the future, and further related research should be carried out to promote the further development of hospice care.

Founded in August 2020, WIMI Hologram Academy is dedicated to holographic AI vision exploration and researches basic science and innovative technologies, driven by human vision. The Holographic Science Innovation Center, in partnership with WIMI Hologram Academy, is committed to exploring the unknown technology of holographic AI vision, attracting, gathering, and integrating relevant global resources and superior forces, promoting comprehensive innovation with scientific and technological innovation as the core, and carrying out basic science and innovative technology research.


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