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Virtual Reality in Mental Health

Chair’s Welcome and Introduction: Virtual Reality - Where are we heading?

Ross O'Brien
Associate Director of Innovation and Technology CNWL NHS FT; 
and Programme Lead - Digital IAPT Healthy London Partnership 

Sarah Ticho 

• recent developments in virtual reality in mental health, neurological  and rehabilitative therapies
• current trailblazers using virtual reality in mental health
• the need for an NHS wide Immersive strategy
• what would the strategy look like, how could it help patients and providers?
• my experience and patient benefits

Sarah explained that virtual reality in healthcare can be used in 5 key areas:

• pain management
• physio and rehabilitation
• mental health 
• clinical intervention, preventative care and wellbeing 
• patient education e.g. reducing pre-surgical anxiety 

She discussed the importance of regulation, for storing the data, approving hardware and software on medical devices, working collaboratively, fairness and supporting diversity and inclusion, enabling public access, and supporting research.  She concluded her presentation saying that ultimately there are valuable opportunities for virtual reality to work alongside pharma and lead to faster recovery times and improved patient outcomes. 

Virtual Reality in Practice: A patient’s perspective on the importance of VR

Kay Smith
VR Patient By Experience and Author of
“When the Drugs Don’t Work”

Keith Grimes
Medical Director
Babylon Health

• The power of VR for pain management – how VR was used to manage  pain from a patient’s perspective
• The importance of a digital choice in order that patients can support themselves

Keith and Kay discussed how Keith supported kay to access VR when she was unable to take pain medication and how it positively impacted her life. Kay, a patient with comorbidities, gave an inspiring account of her first time using a virtual reality headset and how it left her pain free for the first time in 3 years. She now uses VR daily and it has supported her through surgery and treatment. 

Keith emphasised the earlier discussion on the need for regulation so that patients, professionals and commissioners can all be assured that VR won't hurt them, it will do good, and that there is automony on how it is used. Finally he asked the audience to please test VR to experience it. 

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