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Mon Health Medical Center Offers Innovative Virtual Reality Art Therapy to Combat Opioid Abuse and Reduce Pain

Posted Date: 4/24/2019
Virtual Reality at Mon Health Medical Center
Mon Health Medical Center, a leading community hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, is creating a meaningful impact for its patients undergoing surgery, opioid addiction, and soon cancer treatment through its new virtual reality arts program.

The innovative therapy is currently implemented within Urology with plans to introduce it in the infusion center as well as other departments. While patients are undergoing treatment or surgery, they're transported out of the hospital and into a virtual art museum, MONA. Volunteers from Morgantown High School and the surrounding community helped curate the museums' exhibitions and serve as tour guides to personalize the experience for each patient.

Dr. Jaschar Shakuri-Rad, Mon Health Medical Center Urologist and Director of Robotic Surgery, began using the virtual reality headsets during vasectomies in late 2018. After many successful therapy sessions, patients are enlightened by the ability to be transported through art galleries all around the world. Dr. Shakuri-Rad is confident in utilizing the program to further decrease patient pain.

"My patients can choose from many exhibitions that encourage them to think and interact creatively, providing a distraction to further decrease pain levels," said Dr. Shakuri-Rad. "By engaging multiple or all of the patient's sensory inputs, we hope to be able to suppress their perception of pain thereby reducing the need for opioid medications all together."

To build MONA, Mon Health Medical Center partnered with The Healing Museum, a virtual reality arts platform designed to help with pain management, decrease anxiety and ease tension. The Healing Museum's CTO and Co-Founder, MIT, and Morgantown High School alumnus, Benjamin Gleitzman, helped develop the technology that powers the museum to positively impact his home state and community.

"Developing ways to avoid the use of pain medications is vital as we face the opioid crisis - especially in West Virginia," Gleitzman said. "While the mind is off on a creative voyage, the brain it powerfully persuaded to feel less pain. Together with the medical staff here at Mon Health Medical Center, we're confident we can create a viable alternative to pain medication."

Mon Health Medical Center nurses as well as volunteers assist patients in utilizing this arts program.

"The field of virtual reality in medicine has a lot of potential. We are very excited to bring this cutting-edge technology to Mon Health Medical Center and our community to help improve the patient care experience, one patient at a time," explained David Goldberg, President and CEO of Mon Health.
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