UMCG offers cancer patients a virtual tour of their (proton therapy) treatment
18 May 2018
A new virtual reality app, developed by the UMCG, offers cancer patients the possibility to experience their treatment in advance, from the comfort of their own home. The UMCG hopes this may reduce patient anxiety and may help improve patient preparation, especially for patients receiving proton therapy.
A radiotherapy treatment can make you feel vulnerable. Following a number of high-tech preparatory steps, you lie in a treatment room, all by yourself and surrounded by impressive equipment producing strange noises. The virtual reality app provides a 360-degree video tour of all steps in the radiotherapy treatment process.
Patients not only see the CT-scanning room, but they actually lie on the CT-couch while a scan is made. By aiming their gaze, the patients will receive additional visual and audio information. The app furthermore immerses the patients in the procedures performed in the mold room, such as making a mask which is used for maintaining a stable posture during treatment. For small children, the app includes the recovery room where they awaken from their anesthesia.
A tour for all ages
The app includes tours for adults as well as children, and for both photon and proton therapy. Children less than nine years old will be guided by the animation figure ‘Radion’. For a shared experience, parents can accompany their child in the virtual world and experience what their child sees and hears.
Patients referred to the UMCG department of radiation oncology will receive a login-code by mail, as well as a VR-viewer. The code allows the patient to download the app onto their smartphone. The best experience is obtained by placing the phone in the VR-viewer.
A more efficient treatment preparation
The virtual reality app replaces the real-life tours children used to get at the photon radiotherapy clinic. At the new proton therapy center, a treatment modality especially advantageous for children, these tours are not possible. Because of the limited availability of the proton beam, the rooms need to be used for patient treatments only.
The virtual reality app has been developed in collaboration with VIEWMR, specialist in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality solutions based in Groningen, and RTRN, specialist in creative communications.