Patient using VR at MI cancer center

A unique study is underway at a Michigan cancer center.

They’re using virtual reality (VR) devices to calm patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

The study began in December at the Marie Yeager cancer center at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph.

“It’s a moment in time that they’re able to focus on something positive of relaxing,” said Dr. Barbara Schmidtman, the manager of Radiation Oncology and Ambulatory Infusion.

Patients at the Marie Yeager Cancer Center have been using VR to relax while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment since 2016 and it’s made a difference.

“Once I saw how patients were reacting to this, it really fueled me from start to finish,” said Brendon Beede, the senior project manager. “I knew that I was onto something here.”

Beede, the “IT nerd” as he refers to himself, said one patient said she would go to the beach every day before treatments to reduce her anxiety.

But on a day watch a basketball game from the sidelines or a football game from the 50-yard line.

But travel content is the most important since many patients can’t go far during their time in treatment.

“You’re locked into your location for sometimes five weeks or greater,” Schmidtman said. “In chemotherapy regimes, they could be locked into their location for much longer. This really allows patients from a travel perspective to be able to see parts of the world that they haven’t had an opportunity to see.”

The study involves analyzing the blood pressure and baseline anxiety level in patients with and then without the VR.

Researchers hope their study will be published nationwide and impact other cancer centers.

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