Development of a smartphone virtual reality game to support the radiation therapy of children and adolescents in proton centers

Leonardo Schenck, Christian Bäumer*, Björn Ross, Gabriele Schäfer, Nicole Stember, Heike Thomas, Stefan Stieglitz, Beate Timmermann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Introduction: For most patients, cancer therapy with radiation is a new experience coming with many unknown challenges. This can be stressful, particularly for children and adolescents. With the aim of reducing this stress and anxiety, a virtual-reality (VR) game, which can be used by patients prior to treatment, was developed and evaluated in a proton therapy center.

Methods: The specifications were derived from literature and from interviews with medical staff and patients. The gantry including the sound of its moving components and the sound of the interlock and safety system were identified as the main features relevant for preparation of a radiation course. Potential implementation difficulties were identified in a literature study and regarded in the design. Within the VR game, patients could interact with modeled equipment of the treatment room and hear the reportedly stress-inducing sounds in a stress-free environment prior to the treatment. The VR game was evaluated in a second series of interviews with patients.

Results and Discussion: This exploratory study demonstrated the specification, implementation and safe application of a VR game dedicated to young proton therapy patients. Initial anecdotal evidence suggested that the VR gaming experience was well received and found to be helpful when preparing young patients for radiation therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1163022
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalFrontiers in Pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • proton therapy
  • virtual reality
  • pediatric cancer patients
  • patient immobilization
  • serious games
  • phosphenes


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