At Garnet Health Medical Center, our doctors and staff evaluate and test new ways to help our patients relieve pain, to reduce anxiety and stress, as well as connect with our patients in ways that resonate with them and create a lasting impact.

Virtual reality is one of the latest cutting edge technologies that is assisting our physicians and staff in providing exceptional patient care. It has been used to help laboring mothers in our Rowley Family Birthing Center, and in our Pediatric Department by our Child Life Specialist, Michelle Ferguson.

When Erin Martucci declined an epidural during labor, her doctors offered her a virtual reality (VR) headset. Slipping it on, she was mentally transported to a relaxing beach vista, where she could hear crashing waves and chirping birds, all while lying in her hospital bed in New York. A soothing voice coached her to focus on crashing waterfalls and seagulls flying circles overhead, as well as her breathing. The virtual experience helped her block a lot of pain during the two hours before she was ready to push.

Martucci is not the only patient who has used VR to escape pain. These immersive, multisensory environments that nudge our brains into thinking we are somewhere else are emerging as powerful alternatives to opioids for everything from burn injuries to stroke.

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