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Alma Hospital: virtual reality to fight anxiety


By Yohann Harvey Simard – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Undergoing medical treatment can often be a source of stress and anxiety. Never mind, new virtual reality headsets are now available at Alma Hospital to allay patient fears. A first in the region.

Developed by Paperplane Therapeutics, the helmets immerse people about to undergo a medical procedure in a reassuring and relaxing environment.

“The main purpose is to treat anxiety. It is aimed, for example, at people who are called upon to come to the chair of the transcranial stimulator, and who can sometimes be in a state of shock or panic, ”illustrates Jean Lamoureux, director general of the Fondation de l’Hôtel-Dieu d ‘Alma.

The 12-minute virtual reality experience can also benefit oncology patients, as chemotherapy can be challenging.

“People who are afraid can put on the helmet during or before the treatment. Often, it helps them calm down. »

In the era of compulsory overtime, Jean Lamoureux adds that medical personnel will also be able to benefit from the relaxing effects of virtual reality.

The purchase of helmets was made possible thanks to the contribution of the Fondation de l’Hôtel-Dieu d’Alma and Telus.

Valued at $7,000 each, two helmets are already available, while two more could be added later.

Proven technology

According to information published in the newspaper Métro, research conducted at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center found that 80% of patients who had used virtual reality tools felt less anxiety during their medical procedure. In addition, 50% of them noticed a significant reduction in pain, while 30% did not feel any at all.

During the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, the effectiveness of Paperplane Therapeutics helmets was also proven for use with young children. “They didn’t even realize they were getting bitten. »

Psychiatry in the foreground

This year, the Hôtel-Dieu Foundation donated $350,000 for the purchase of new equipment for the Alma hospital.

Of this sum, a large part was devoted to the department of psychiatry while the psychological health of many was put to the test during the pandemic.

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