A new virtual reality simulator is introducing young cancer patients to the sights and sounds they’ll experience during treatment without actually stepping into an MRI or radiation room.
Darin Neben, 13, is one of the first kids trying out the virtual reality simulation at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha.
“This is his third time having cancer,” Kristina Neben, his mother, says. “He’s back to the radiation.”
Kristina has been there every step of the way as Darin battles neuroblastoma. He does not have to wonder what treatment will be like. He can see it and hear it ahead of time. The virtual reality shows him exactly what the room will look like and what noises the equipment will make.
“He has already been through radiation once,” Neben says. “He doesn’t remember it. They did not have this five years ago to let him experience it.”
“The more exposure that they have to things, the more comfortable they get with those,” says child life specialist Debbie Wagers. “If I were able to create that experience for them in a virtual world, it would make it a lot easier.”