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Sheffield Children’s Hospital Utilising AR Games to Aid Burns Patients

Artfelt, the arts program under the Children’s Hospital Charity, has entered into a partnership with immersive design studio Megaverse for creating an AR game to assist young burns-affected victims through their treatment. The Sheffield Children’s Hospital is employing a computer game to transform its treatment rooms into fantasy realms, to help young patients deal with treatment.

The revolutionary application turns the treatment space into a virtual setting to enhance treatment outcomes for children and youngsters affected by burn injuries. The AR-based initiative’s concept is to provide adequate distractions to burns injury patients whilst the treatment is ongoing. It is a novel idea and among the first such usage scenarios for any augmented reality application.

The technology-powered treatment method is being deployed to achieve lower anxiety and stress levels during procedures like wound dressing. As stress hormones go down, there is proven improvement in healing. The aftereffect of this is a potential reduction in scar development.

The application enables to metamorphose the hospital’s treatment rooms and turn them into a vivid and enthralling collection of woodland and arctic environments, with the help of an iPad. Art pieces adorning the treatment room’s walls serve as the game’s backdrop, and participants are surrounded by a three-dimensional, layered soundscape that ensures the lack of monotony for patients being treated for longer durations.

The game design was a conscious effort to help patients across differing abilities and age groups, and can also be useful for many medical treatments differing in the aspects of direction, length, and motion.

AR games to treat young burns-affected victims. Image source: Joyofandroid

A collaboration with the University of Sheffield also led to the development of a wireless charging wall, facilitating instant game loading. Screen-based gestures facilitate patient interactions, enabling them to look around and find other beings to hold interactions with. Numerous tapping interactions have been implemented into the application on the basis of research that pointed out children’s fondness for setting off sound effects.

Dr. Charlotte Wright, The Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s senior clinical psychologist, remarked that treatment-related anxiety generally stems from the dread of pain and other negative encounters. Dr. Wright emphasised that the many dressing changes children undergo after-burn treatments can be painful for them, their family members, and also the medical professionals delivering treatment. Elaborating further on the subject, she revealed that children who undergo negative experiences in a hospital environment may experience obstacles in dealing with their burn injuries. They may even become prone to more pronounced trauma and anxiety symptoms.

Dr. Wright concluded that the Artfelt application is useful for aiding patients in dealing with distressing procedures as it relies on distraction. Distraction is now regarded as a vital non-pharmacological method for curbing treatment anxiety and pain. She revealed that both the children and the hospital’s medical staff have given overwhelmingly positive feedback for the development in use.

Liz Nicholls, Clinical Nurse Specialist, revealed that children coming back for treatment appointments are interested to rely on the game. The AR development is finding fast acceptance as it keeps children entertained and helps them during the recovery process.

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