Hospital rooms have to be clean and sterile but the decorative aspect is secondary to the main function. Patients often have to spend weeks or months in an environment that may not provide enough sensory and aesthetic stimulation. The relationship between aesthetic experience and health is often neglected or underestimated, but there are many research results that show its existence and strength.
It is already known that directing the patient’s attention towards alternative situations or experiences can diminish the intensity of pain and stress related to medical procedures.
Even a bit of nature seen from the window of a hospital room can have a positive effect on the patient’s health. Patients recovering from operations come back to health faster, and need less medications when they are provided contact with nature.
But how does a person who is often unable to move from the hospital bed, actively explore a space filled with nature, landscapes and experiences?
Virtual Reality technology makes this possible, allowing a person to be immersed in a simulated 3D space that engages all the major senses and responds to user’s actions in real-time. A patient can experience virtual environments through the goggles, which provide a stereoscopic image of the simulated space, and enable looking around in that space using head movement sensors.
Patients can walk and act in a virtual environment by moving their hands and fingers, or using a special console, which makes VR experience accessible even to persons who are immobilized.