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Virtual Reality as Anxiolysis During Laceration Repair in the Pediatric Emergency Department

  • Author Footnotes
    1 Present Affiliation: Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Joseph M Sanzari Children's Hospital, Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, New Jersey & Department of Pediatrics, Hackensack Meridian Health School of Medicine, Nutley, New Jersey.
    Sondra Maureen Nemetski
    Correspondence
    Reprint Address: Sondra Maureen Nemetski, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Hackensack University Medical Center - Joseph M Sanzari Children's Hospital, 30 Prospect Avenue, Hackensack, NJ 07601
    Footnotes
    1 Present Affiliation: Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Joseph M Sanzari Children's Hospital, Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, New Jersey & Department of Pediatrics, Hackensack Meridian Health School of Medicine, Nutley, New Jersey.
    Affiliations
    Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics
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  • Author Footnotes
    2 Present Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of La Verne, La Verne, California
    Danielle I. Berman
    Footnotes
    2 Present Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of La Verne, La Verne, California
    Affiliations
    Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine – Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, New York
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  • Hnin Khine
    Affiliations
    Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics
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  • Daniel M. Fein
    Affiliations
    Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    1 Present Affiliation: Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Joseph M Sanzari Children's Hospital, Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, New Jersey & Department of Pediatrics, Hackensack Meridian Health School of Medicine, Nutley, New Jersey.
    2 Present Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of La Verne, La Verne, California

      Abstract

      Background

      Although procedural pain is effectively treated with analgesics, managing anxiety during laceration repair is more challenging.

      Objectives

      We examined the feasibility of using immersive virtual reality (VR) as anxiolysis during laceration repair in the pediatric emergency department (ED).

      Methods

      We conducted a non-blinded, observational, pilot study in an urban pediatric ED that enrolled a convenience sample of children aged 5–13 years undergoing sutured repair of non-facial lacerations. Subjects played an immersive VR game while undergoing laceration repair. Parents assessed their child's anxiety on a 100-mm visual analogue scale at enrollment and during laceration repair. The primary outcome measure was the percentage of children whose anxiety score did not increase by ≥ 20 mm from enrollment to the first stitch.

      Results

      Forty patients completed the study. Mean initial anxiety score was 54 mm (standard deviation 33 mm). Thirty-seven of forty patients (93%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 83–99%) had anxiety scores that did not increase by 20 mm or more from enrollment to the first stitch. Eighty percent (95% CI 64–91%) of patients’ anxiety scores decreased between enrollment and first stitch. The mean change in anxiety score at first stitch was −39 mm (95% CI −51 mm to −27 mm; p < 0.001). Similar downward trends in anxiety scores were noted throughout the procedure. All laceration repairs were successfully completed without sedation or restraints. There were no adverse events noted, and the main barriers identified with VR use involved easily correctable technical difficulties with the equipment.

      Conclusion

      Immersive VR is a safe and effective distractive technique to reduce procedural anxiety during laceration repair in the pediatric ED.

      Keywords

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