Virtual Reality, a new drug-free medicine.
The medical world has started using the immersive technique more and more frequently as a therapeutic tool. There’s a lot of exciting research now which is being brought to life, partly enabled by the wild dolphin experience of the Dolphin Swim Club. Studies show that, yes indeed, swimming with virtual wild dolphins can help patients to reduce their pain, anxiety and enhance well-being, just by bringing ‘fun’ into healthcare.

Here are some examples of studies currently conducted.

Virtual Medicine

Since the beginning of the project, VR experiences of the Dolphin Swim Club have been part of several scientific medical research all over the world. Professor Wim Veling of the University Medical Center in Groningen has used them for the treatment of hospitalized patients, suffering from depression, anxiety disorders and psychoses. Early 2019 the latest study with 50 patients shows a very positive outcome of treatment by Virtual Reality compared by regular, validated relaxation exercises. The outcome of this study will be published later in 2019

‘s Heeren Loo, a Dutch mental health institution, dedicated to the lifelong support of over 10,000 clients with a mental disorder conducted a study with mild mentally disabled patients, suffering from severe stress complaints. Although the number of patients was rather small (below 15) the outcome was beyond expectations, showing that in 82% of the cases there was a significant improvement in relaxation and well-being realized. The individual stories of some of the participants were overwhelming, and an extra motivation for both the crew of the Dolphin Swim Club and the medical staff of ‘s Heeren Loo to intensify the collaboration by installing a dolphin-room at the premises, as well as providing the Wild Dolphin UnderwaterVR in various aqua therapies.

A young girl with autism, who suffered from insomnia for over 4 years, responded so well to the virtual wild dolphins’ experience, that she now owns VR goggles herself. Every evening before going to bed, she wishes the dolphins good night and no longer has any problems falling asleep.

The Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles used the footage for a study on pain relief. It has been found that virtual therapy can help reduce pain by 52%. More studies, on the duration of the reduction, must be conducted, but the immediate effects are very promising.

Stanford University uses the Wild Dolphin VR experiences in both the preparation of young heart patients just before undergoing surgery, but also in general for relaxation purposes in the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

Research Collaborators

The child was tearing up and trying hard not to cry in front of his father. The boy was provided a VR headset with a relaxation program that showed dolphins swimming underwater. “He was so focused on the visualization we were able to put him in a splint in no time,” Elliott says. “He kept saying, ‘I see the dolphins.’ He got through it without crying.”

Courtney Elliot, Clinical Director of the emergency department- Mount Vernon Hospital- Virginia USA