Hospice helps bedridden terminally ill patients take a virtual walk through a park using headsets

Published on 18th April 2017

Patient, John Lee, tries out the virtual reality glasses

By Sian Boyle for The Daily Mail | Posted 18 April 2017

A hospice has given bedridden patients the chance to go for a ‘walk’ through a park thanks to virtual reality headsets.

In what is thought to be a UK first, terminally ill people were shown a 360-degree video of a local beauty spot.

John Lee, 70, who has Motor Neurone Disease (MND), was the first patient at the LOROS hospice in Leicester to try out the virtual reality glasses.

He was transported to nearby Bradgate Park, giving him a view of the landscape and people enjoying themselves.

"You soon relax, it’s just like you’re there. I loved it. I nearly waved at somebody as they walked past," he said.

As Mr Lee turned his head, the camera followed, making him feel like he was actually in the park.

He said: "Since being diagnosed with MND, we can get out but I can’t spend a lot of time out of the wheelchair, so being able to have these experiences through the glasses is really good. It’s almost as good as the real thing."

LOROS commissioned the special film of the park to help terminally ill patients whose lives had become restricted.

It said the virtual reality headsets are an important tool that can improve patients’ well being, and is looking to expand the project.

The Hospice’s Chief Executive, John Knight, said: "This is a really exciting project for us, and I believe we are the first hospice in the country to have specifically commissioned such a film as a therapeutic tool using a familiar local setting.

"We recognise that some of our patients are often restricted to where they can go due to their illness, so we wanted to help give them the opportunity to still enjoy life wider than their restrictions allow, through virtual reality."

He added: "To see the response from one of our patients, John, was quite overwhelming.

"You could really see how much it meant to him to be able to experience walking through Bradgate Park, something he never thought he would be able to ever experience again after being diagnosed."

The virtual reality technology can allow dying people to ‘visit’ places they never thought the would see again.

From the comfort of their bed or chair patients can be transported instantly to a familiar location.

Studies have shown that the brain accepts the virtual world within 20 seconds, after which the experience becomes all absorbing.

LOROS has been working with a specialist virtual reality production company since last year to create a library of valuable experiences for patients to enjoy.

Mr Knight said: "As the project progresses, we really hope that other patients, not just those at LOROS, reap the benefits of our virtual reality films too as they get to share such magical experiences."

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