At Shriners Hospitals for Children, the health and safety of our patients, families, volunteers and staff is our top priority. With the evolving situation regarding COVID-19, we are closely monitoring updates from local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and are actively following their recommendations.

If your child has an upcoming appointment, please contact your local Shriners Hospitals for Children location.

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia visitor information.

Skip to navigation

What we're up to

news News Monday, March 30, 2020 Monday, March 30, 2020 12:16 PM - Monday, March 30, 2020 12:16 PM

Virtual reality used as a coping method for patients at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia

Virtual reality used as a coping method for patients at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia

At Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia, we use a variety of therapies to help patients. Earlier this year, the hospital received a virtual reality (VR) program from the Starlight Children’s Foundation, which is used to help our patients cope with some of their difficult times and medical procedures. The program can be used as a distraction, a coping device, or even just a means of play. The program essentially allows the patient to step away from the hospital.

“It could be used as a distraction or as a coping mechanism, which will help promote play,” said Lauren Skorupski, child life intern. “Play helps children understand the world around them and gives the patient a sense of control. It helps them maintain some aspect of normality, which is often lost while staying at the hospital.”

The program is one of the first of its kind. This use of virtual reality includes a customized, thoroughly cleanable, wireless headset with pre-loaded content. It allows patients with limited mobility to sit up or lay down while controlling their experience with a remote or by moving their heads.

Lauren started her internship by taking on the project of implementing the use of virtual reality as a new therapy option for patients and families around the hospital. She has done extensive research about how the program has been used in other facilities. Now that this is being implemented, Lauren hopes more therapists will see VR as another tool to help their patients accomplish their goals or get through difficult parts of their treatment.

“It was really relaxing,” said Urianna, a patient at the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital. “My feet were hurting after physical therapy, but this has helped me to shift my attention from the pain.”

Urianna, affectionately known as “Uri,” has been coming to the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital since she was 7. She has had multiple surgeries, casting procedures and therapies as part of a care plan for arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC). Characterized by multiple joint contractures and muscle weakness, AMC is a congenital condition where the patient’s arms and/or legs can be contracted inward. Like many other patients, Uri goes through intensive physical therapy to strengthen her muscles. Having an option like the virtual reality program really helps relax her during hospital visits.

“It was really helpful,” said Urianna. “If I was going into surgery or therapy, I would definitely want to use something like this to help me relax or help me get through anything that is physically or emotionally draining.”

Currently, Starlight Children’s Foundation has placed over 1,300 virtual reality headsets in over 300 health care facilities, with hopes of expanding to every children’s hospital and pediatric unit in the U.S.