Sheffield Teaching Hospitals introduces VR gaming to help patients

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has become the first NHS Trust in the country to use virtual reality gaming to treat patients. 

The Trust has installed a state-of-the-art virtual reality computer gaming suite at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital to help patents with visual vertigo. The technology has already improved recovery times for patients suffering from the condition, with patients regaining control of their symptoms within two months of starting therapy compared to the six months that using traditional rehabilitative therapy takes.

Just less than a third of people with balance issues suffer from visual vertigo – a chronic and complex form of dizziness.

Professor Jaydip Ray, clinical director and consultant surgeon at Sheffield’s Hallamshire Hospital, said: “Visual vertigo is a complex, yet poorly understood condition that can have a profound effect on people’s lives, with many finding it impossible to do job roles in the fire or police service that require you to cope with visual challenges.

“Our specialist regional neurotology clinic has already pioneered the use of augmented reality video game consoles with balance boards to help patients, so using hi-end virtual reality gaming systems for rehabilitative therapy for patients with visual vertigo is a natural progression for us. Although a small number of patients have been unable to tolerate the system, for those who can we have seen significant improvements in recovery times. These can be hugely transforming and can be key in preventing a deepening sense of depression and isolation, and most patients who have accessed the system are now being symptom-free.”

It is hoped that in the future, patients can use the technology at home as part of a self-help therapy programme.

For more information, head to the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ website.

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