When pediatric cancer patient Elizabeth first tried Virtual Reality (VR), she exclaimed that it was “amazing and exciting.” She didn’t realize it at first, but VR would prove to be an aid in the hospital for her and her fellow study participants. Elizabeth is the first of seven teens to test VR in 18Loop and the American Childhood Cancer Organization’s (ACCO) Joint Experimental Intervention Research Study (JEIRS). Together, 18Loop and the ACCO are seeking to prove that VR is safe and effective in aiding kids with cancer in their treatment and recovery. The research team is working closely with Tripp, a startup xR company that delivers Virtual Stress Management in a comforting high tech meditative package. This week, 18Loop and the ACCO are sharing early data from JEIRS, and it looks like they are on track. Tripp and VR as a whole are an early success with the kids.

One of the key data points derived from the survey sent to the first seven 18Loop/ACCO JEIRS kids was that 100% of them felt VR made for a better hospital stay. Six of seven felt that Tripp’s environment improved their mood and six of seven also felt that VR as a whole made them better off. More than half of the study participants felt that Tripp helped with pain, and all used the software at least once a week. Luke, an ACCO kid, pointed out that Tripp was effective, but that VR was also a big help in fighting boredom in the hospital. It provides access to another world that the kids love to explore.

With VR, you can get a multi-player effect, and family can join in. Successful family intervention is prized in the Palliative Care community and VR offers an opportunity to reach families as a whole. The 18Loop/ACCO kids (including mothers and siblings) used a variety of VR games successfully, all while maintaining a regimen with Tripp to affect mood. These preliminary metrics and observations from our kids are encouraging, albeit from a small sample size. 18Loop plans to distribute fifteen total VR headsets with access to Tripp in the first phase of JEIRS. A second phase is currently being planned and funded, with an eye on younger participants.

18Loop is grateful for its partnership with the ACCO, and credits their organization for providing access and joint management oversight for JEIRS. Ruth Hoffman, ACCO CEO, has had many ideas about the application of VR and has given 18Loop the green light to implement them. Blair Cresawn, 18Loop’s day to day contact at the ACCO, has tirelessly worked with 18Loop/ACCO kids to ensure that the technology is being received and reviewed effectively. Our calls with JEIRS kids have been lively and informative. Once we connect through the ACCO, we feel a sense of larger community within which we have begun to support Advocacy efforts alongside our partners.

It is expected that the initial research done on VR can eventually lead to technology distribution to a larger portion of the 16,000 kids that get diagnosed with pediatric cancer each year. Tripp has contributed to 18Loop’s work as well, donating five Oculus headsets for testing and offering support with technology monitoring and adoption. We are happy to work with CEO Nanea Reeves, whose generosity and leadership have benefitted us greatly. Please take a look at the preliminary 18Loop/ACCO JEIRS study results below and support us in helping kids with cancer.

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