Collaboration to establish whether VR can treat ‘scanxiety’

AppliedVR will collaborate with the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to evaluate virtual reality (VR) as a solution to help address the underlying anxiety often experienced by many patients with terminal cancer.

The study, which is being led by the Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB), Center for Cancer Research (CCR), NCI, will enrol patients from many NCI-designated cancer centres and other cancer practices.

Dr. Beth Darnall, chief science advisor of AppliedVR, said: “Virtual reality therapeutics are an effective and non-pharmacologic way to potentially treat anxiety, acute and chronic pain and many other mental and behavioural health conditions. Pairing our technology and deep expertise in therapeutic VR development and design with NCI’s leading expertise in oncology could offer a specialised solution to cancer patients who suffer from anxiety.”

With anxiety being one of the most common psychological problems among cancer patients, extreme stress as a result of the initial cancer diagnosis can negatively result in a patient’s inability to function in their normal life. The proof-of-concept study will evaluate AppliedVR’s virtual reality system on neuro-oncology patients’ “scanxiety,” a term used to describe the anxiety patients with cancer experience before or after medical diagnostics scans. NCI will provide clinical expertise related to the care and management of patients with central nervous system tumours, and collect biospecimens and patient outcomes reports to perform correlative studies as companion work to the feasibility study.

Matthew Stoudt, co-founder and chief executive officer of Applied VR, said: “We firmly believe virtual reality therapeutics have the potential to positively impact the lives of millions of people. Results of this study could further demonstrate virtual reality as a promising modality for other serious health conditions, and specifically amplify the importance of virtual reality treatments for behavioural health conditions.”

If outcomes of the Phase 1 study are positive, AppliedVR and NCI will collaborate on a Phase 2, multi-site study to assess the use of AppliedVR’s virtual reality headsets to treat anxiety in a brain tumour patient population.


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