Bone Marrow Patients Virtual Reality Pilot

Virtual Reality Pilot to Help Bone Marrow Patients 

Norwegian Cancer Society

Bone marrow transplantation is a demanding treatment for children and adolescents with cancer.

High risk of infection means that young patients need to be hospitalized in isolation for 5-6 weeks.  During this time the patient is physically unable to leave the isolation room and visits are restricted to closest family members only.  In addition to the physical side effects of treatment, patients are exposed to psychosocial challenges of being physically isolated from others.  Treatment in isolation is not a unique problem for children and adolescents, but it is perhaps more demanding due to their developmental stage and maturity.

Virtual reality (VR) technology can give users the feeling of being somewhere else. The technology creates a sense of space and presence. By moving their head, users are able to look around, just as in the real world.

The Norwegian Cancer Society’s pilot project aims to explore whether virtual reality (VR) glasses can provide children and adolescents undergoing cancer treatment with a break from everyday life in an isolation room.  Can this new technology help to lessen the psychological and physical side effects of treatment?

This technology has not been tried out in this patient group before in Norway. The project will explore, develop and test the contents of the virtual reality experience. Content could be anything from a “live” interactive tour (a school visit for example) to a visit to a computer-animated world.

The project will collaborate with children and adolescent cancer patients, clinicians, psychologists, music therapists and technologists to develop and test different content and evaluate the effect.

Knowledge and evaluation of this project will have benefits for other populations who for various reasons (tiredness, reduced mobility, risk of infection) are not able to go out.

Please get in touch with Holly Ankjell at if you would like to know more about the project.  We would also be very interested to hear about similar projects in other countries.

Submitted by:

Heidi Skaara Brorson, Head of department Patient support