South Florida Parenting
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Don’t like needles? Take a roller coaster ride instead

Jennifer Jhon
Contact ReporterSouth Florida Parenting

Most kids don’t like going to the doctor. They get poked and prodded, and more often than not, they get an injection.

But if your pediatrician starts to apply the findings of a new study out of Florida Atlantic University, your kids’ future doctor visits might feel more like fun and games.

The study has shown the effectiveness of using Virtual Reality (VR) to distract children from the fear and pain of immunization shots.

According to a news release, Chad Rudnick, M.D., an affiliate professor at FAU’s College of Medicine and founder of Boca VIPediatrics, got the idea for the study after an 8-year-old came to his office with a VR headset and wore it while the doctor gave him an injection.

When the child didn’t flinch from the shot, “the lightbulb went off in my head. It got me thinking whether this outcome was just a one-time incident or whether it would work again,” said Rudnick, according to the release.

He worked with two FAU pre-med students, Emaan Sulaiman and Jillian Orden, to conduct the study and publish it in the journal “Pain Management.”

The study included children ages 6 to 17, who got to choose to experience a roller coaster ride, a helicopter ride or a hot-air balloon ride using the VR headset during an injection.

According to the study, anticipated vs. actual pain and fear were reduced in 94 percent of the participants, and the same number said they would like to use the VR headset again for their next immunization. Parents of the study subjects also reported lower perception of pain and fear in their child, the study found.

editor@sfparenting.com, jjhon@sunsentinel.com, 954-574-5316 or Twitter @sfparenting

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