Seven-year-old Rehan Bostan wasn’t thinking too much about why he was at the Peace Arch Hospital emergency department with his mom Priya Singh Monday morning, thanks to a virtual-reality experience introduced by Dr. Amir Behboudi. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Seven-year-old Rehan Bostan wasn’t thinking too much about why he was at the Peace Arch Hospital emergency department with his mom Priya Singh Monday morning, thanks to a virtual-reality experience introduced by Dr. Amir Behboudi. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Virtual reality eases ER visits: Peace Arch doctor

Dr. Amir Behboudi introduces robot named Pepper to assist with young patients

An emergency room doctor at Peace Arch Hospital is taking a new approach to treating kids in the ER – virtual-reality technology and an interactive robot dubbed Pepper.

Dr. Amir Behboudi said he started using virtual-reality headsets with children while giving them stitches, and found the distraction took their focus away from the pain.

“Our ultimate goal is to have a pain-free ER,” Behboudi told Peace Arch News, during an interview at the hospital Monday morning.

“So we don’t inflict pain” on an already painful experience.

Behboudi, a Langley father of two who has worked at PAH for the past eight years, put his idea into practise a year ago, when he stitched a young girl’s chin while she watched a roller-coaster simulation on a virtual-reality headset.

Prior to putting the headset on, the girl was crying, Behboudi said. Once she was engaged in the simulation, however, “she was smiling and laughing.”

“We can take their attention away from the pain with VR,” Behboudi said in a news release issued earlier Monday. “We know that distraction works. The brain can get fooled when multiple inputs are coming in.”

Behboudi told PAN that three studies are underway at BC Children’s Hospital – a partnership with children’s pain specialist Dr. Ran Goldman – examining the impact of using virtual-reality technology during laceration repair, lab tests and IV insertion and lesion removal.

So far, they’ve shown it “significantly reduces anxiety and makes the procedures more fun,” he said.

Its effectiveness during treatments for injuries such as sprains is anticipated to be the subject of a Peace Arch Hospital study starting next year, he added.

Behboudi described the use of virtual-reality technology as an affordable investment that improves the ER experience for all involved – kids, parents and doctors. And, “it’s fun.”

He noted a study done at Harvard found that half of kids treated at the ER using the technology “truly believed they were on (the roller-coaster).”

Priya Singh said it certainly changed the morning for her son, Rehan Bostan, Monday. She brought the seven-year-old to PAH for stomach pain, and said the virtual-reality headset made a huge difference. He stopped complaining of pain almost immediately and was clearly fascinated by the view that was unfolding only for him.

“Are you going up and down?” Behboudi asked the youngster, who nodded in response.

“Just watch for the balls, there’s going to be balls falling off on you. Look up, way up, way up.”

READ MORE: Peace Arch Hospital ER expansion plans expand

Behboudi’s own excitement at the initiative was obvious.

“He’s coming here with some sort of pain,” Behboudi said of Rehan. Add the headset to the picture and, he’s “just sitting, eating a popsicle.”

“How amazing is that?”

At a cost of approximately $20 for a headset, paired with a basic $200 smartphone that is loaded with free VR experience apps, Behboudi said it is “a no-brainer” to use it with a child patient – or any patient, for that matter, and he hopes the practise will one day expand to include adult patients.

“Anybody,” he said. “That’s the goal.”

Meanwhile, Pepper helps take the edge off of the emergency-room experience for children and families in the waiting room.

The white droid is about three feet tall, with arms and hands, and eyes that actually look at whoever “she” is interacting with. A touch screen on her chest displays options including ‘Freestyle’ and ‘Take a selfie,’ and Pepper will talk and dance with her conversation partner.

“This is one of my favourites,” Pepper tells Behboudi after he selects ‘Freestyle.’

Behboudi said in addition to the dance options, Pepper’s program also includes education components on things such as flu season, and seatbelt safety.

And while virtual-reality technology is now in use at every Fraser Health hospital, Behboudi said Pepper’s presence at Peace Arch is unique – built in Japan, she is the only such robot in use at a B.C. emergency department.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Dr. Amir Behboudi asks Pepper to do “something fun,” during a demonstration at Peace Arch Hospital Monday morning. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Dr. Amir Behboudi asks Pepper to do “something fun,” during a demonstration at Peace Arch Hospital Monday morning. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Just Posted

Pixabay image
Surrey recovers 29,000 jobs it lost to pandemic

That’s according to Surrey Board of Trade’s fifth Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report on COVID-19

A worker is seen throwing a chicken in an undercover video in 2017 filmed by California-based animal rights activists Mercy For Animals.
Fraser Valley chicken abuse trial delayed until February

Originally scheduled for a jury trial, Sofina and Chilliwack company now face judge alone

Desmond Tompkins helped curate and host a youth art show at the South Surrey/White Rock Learning Centre. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey/White Rock Learning Centre art show highlights ‘diverse perspectives’

With COVID-19 protocols in place, youth art show underway

The SACH Community Hub team, from left to right: Upkar Singh Tatlay, Gary Thandi, Allysha Ram, Jassy Pandher, Harman Pander. (Submitted photo)
There’s help for South Asian men wrestling with drug addiction in Surrey

South Asian deaths related to toxic drugs increased by 255 per cent between 2015 and 2018

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

In this May 23, 2012, file photo, an approximately 2-year-old female cougar runs away from a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife trap after being released northeast of Arlington, Wash. A cougar has attacked and severely mauled a man in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Mulligan/The Daily Herald via AP
Cougar euthanized in B.C. after severely mauling a man north of Vancouver

Whistler RCMP officers were first on the scene and shot and killed a cougar prowling nearby

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual offences involving a minor in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Most Read