VR simulation to assist in diagnosis and treatment plans for children’s mental health disorders

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Hospital launches VR tool to help in the management of mental health disorder in children

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has taken a groundbreaking step towards improving the diagnosis and treatment of children with mental health disorders. This innovative approach utilizes VR simulations to provide hands-on training to prospective pediatricians, enabling them to navigate challenging discussions with children suffering from behavioral health problems.

The VR simulation places aspiring pediatricians in realistic scenarios that mirror their daily experiences in the clinic. For instance, they might engage in a discussion with a mom whose daughter is suffering from mental health disorder or showing any sign of it. By immersing themselves in this virtual environment, pediatric residents can assess and refine their skills in a practical and controlled setting before encountering real patients.

How does it work?

The VR simulation works by allowing children resident doctors to assess their abilities in a practical and manageable setting before meeting actual clients. The VR environment works like a patient’s room. A doctor typically supervises the procedure and controls the virtual mother and daughter, adjusting gestures, tone of voice and gestures. The pediatricians in training can walk willingly all over the room and discuss with both of them. During the procedure, the junior doctors will examine different perspectives such as past medical records, diagnosis procedures, treatment methods, and referrals to field experts.

The simulation is distributed into three (03) parts, the initial interview in which students acquire information about the case. The main interview is where the pediatrician in training interacts with the mother and client and the ultimate follow-up interview is to receive feedback.

The simulation will benefit the doctors to improve their confidence and competence in handling children with mental health problems. It helps them by asking the right questions, responding compassionately, providing suitable treatment options, and understanding when a referral is essential.

VR growing more influential in medicine

While this training approach is a significant advancement, it is not entirely novel in the medical field. Mediverse, a platform developed in Wales, has already paved the way for professionals to access VR training from the comfort of their homes. Furthermore, researchers are actively investigating the potential of VR in treating depression and anxiety, highlighting the wide-ranging applications of this technology in mental healthcare. Also, Body Swap and Meta Immersive Learning recently launched a VR tool to enhance the communicative skills of nursing students.

As Cincinnati Children’s Hospital embraces virtual reality as a tool for training future pediatricians, it sets a precedent for other medical institutions to follow suit. By harnessing the power of immersive simulations, the hospital aims to improve the well-being and outcomes of children facing mental health challenges, ultimately paving the way for a more compassionate and effective approach to pediatric care.

Photo Credit: Luis Melendez

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