VR therapy trial set to be rolled out across the UK

Tim Maytom

A trial of a pioneering virtual reality treatment for conditions including MS, motor neurone disease and cerebral palsy is set to be rolled out across the UK, following a successful pilot at a neurological care centre in Aberdeen.

According to BBC Scotland, the charity Sue Ryder has been working to support people with a variety of conditions, and has found that immersive technology can reduce blood pressure and pain levels among those using it, with the effects lasting for several days.

The technology, which includes viewing goggles and headphones, will now be rolled out to Sue Ryder's network of neurological centres across the UK, helping those with a range of conditions including brain injuries.

The programs used during the trial focused on allowing residents to "immerse themselves in a world they choose", with experiences including being on a beach, sky diving or scuba diving. According to therapists at the centre, the treatment had dramatic effects, with residents less agitated and more relaxed.

One 65-year-old resident who took part in the trial to help cope with MS told BBC Scotland the VR experience was "terrific" and that "it's somewhere I could not go in a wheelchair", adding "the sea lapping at my feet feels so good, I feel like kicking off my shoes."

"Within seconds of [the equipment] being on, people were more relaxed," said Louise Torrance, head of care at Sue Ryder in Aberdeen. "Abou 75 per cent of people saw blood pressure decrease - a couple increased as they were so excited. They have got freedom as they can choose where to go. It's something to look forward to. It's hugely significant. They are talking about it with other residents and their families. Once that is rolled out it will have a huge impact."