Award-winning virtual reality app on show at York Festival of Ideas

A CHILD’S eye view of a visit to hospital via the world of virtual reality was the subject of a talk at the York Festival of Ideas.

IPEM member Dr Cormac McGrath, who developed the award-winning app along with fellow IPEM member Dr Jonathan Ashmore, told the audience how the app came about in order to help children overcome their anxiety about having an MRI scan.

He described how a team of physicists, play specialists and radiographers came together to create the app and how funding from the Children’s MRI Scanner Appeal charity had helped them to develop it.

The app prepares children for scans via a 360° virtual reality video of the entire MRI journey. When the app is used with a virtual reality headset and a mobile phone, it allows children to feel as though they are inside an MRI scanner. The app has greatly reduced the need for children to undergo a general anaesthetic for an MRI scan and is attracting interest from across the world.

Dr McGrath’s daughter Aoibhínn, who is the voice of the child on the VR app, demonstrated to the audience how the technology worked.

The app has won a number of awards, including IPEM’s Roy Ellis Patient Benefit Award, the Chief Scientific Officer's Innovation in Healthcare Delivery award, and the Viapath Award for Innovation in Healthcare Science at the Advancing Healthcare Awards.

Dr McGrath, lead MRI Clinical Scientist for the Northern Ireland Regional Medical Physics Service, told the audience that an unexpected outcome had been the impact on parents who said the app made them feel less anxious about their child’s scan.

He said: ‘It was great to see how enthusiastic the audience were about the app and it fitted perfectly into the festival’s theme of Imagining the Impossible. The app is really making a difference and this was a terrific way to help spread the word about it.’

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Posted: Jun 6, 2018,
Categories: IPEM News,
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Author: Sean Edmunds
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