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Elizabeth, a sixteen year old neuroblastoma patient affiliated with the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) was the first child reached in the ACCO’s partnership with 18Loop.
The ACCO is connecting my organization 18Loop to kids with cancer so that they may utilize our Virtual Reality (VR) technology. Elizabeth thought the VR was “amazing” and uses our Oculus headset to access Tripp, a Virtual Stress Management environment that combines gaming, meditation and computer science.
Tripp has helped Elizabeth to calm down and relax herself during trying times with treatment.
Even her little brother has benefited, seeking a necessary mood boost from Tripp on Oculus VR when he becomes stressed with the strain of his sister’s illness. 18Loop is betting that Tripp and VR will help many kids with cancer tolerate treatment, recover and thrive as they participate in 18Loop’s Virtual Comfort Pilot that launched in November 2020. We expect to reach over one hundred pediatric oncology patients in 2021. Our VR fight against cancer has begun.
Have you ever used Virtual Reality (VR) technology?
Virtual Reality immerses the user into a different world utilizing a headset and audio stimulus and when this new environment is designed to improve mood and distract from pain the positive results are magical. When VR has been deployed to assist burn victims with treatment, there has been a reduction of cognitive pain by 44 percent, emotional pain by 32 percent and sensory pain by 27 percent according to studies at Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles. There are studies that indicate that VR can be more effective than opioids in pain management with no addiction issues. Modern deployment of VR in a medical setting has increased, and my company 18Loop focuses on leveraging the potential of VR for children with cancer.
18Loop is focused on Advocacy and Awareness and is promoting VR adoption in the pediatric oncology population.
We are also distributing Oculus VR technology to kids with cancer through critical distribution partnerships, with the ACCO taking the lead.
18Loop will launch a research protocol focused on the study of VR as a benefit for children undergoing chemotherapy in inpatient and outpatient environments. We’ll ask whether treatment tolerance and recovery is better with or without VR and we’ll gather quantitative metrics to support our hypothesis. The study will also look at the larger familial impact of VR, as our cancer families will be encouraged to take advantage of the technology that has been given to the kids. Larger familial impact is expected, and as we measure it, we’ll get a better idea of our overall success. There is a lot of data on VR’s benefit for pain management, but overall mood/depression/anxiety studies take more time and may mean more to our kids and families in the long run than distraction from intermittent pain stimuli.
So, what is required to validate our VR Proof of Concept?
First of all, we must take a look at safety through tests derived through statistical analysis. VR is not for everyone, and some experience dizziness or disorientation. Typically, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 83 percent of cancer patients who are immersed report a positive effect. 18Loop expects an even higher positive rating for our kids and families, considering that Tripp doesn’t expose users to most of the environmental motion issues that impact negative reports. So far, our ACCO Virtual Comfort participants are receiving only the benefits of VR meditation. In our early findings, we have yet to encounter a child that does not tolerate Tripp. However, there is a long way to go.
Our initial findings strengthen our view that Tripp and our VR solution has an impact beyond the immediate effect on the cancer child, assisting with calmness and mood in all family members that choose to be immersed.
Tripp has facilitated almost one million immersions, leading users through meditation that has many benefits. Our conversations with doctors and health accelerators have led us to believe that impacting the family is a key differentiator and something that makes our approach unique. The idea that VR can help whole families is exciting to our team at 18Loop, and motivates us to prove these results in our Pilot and our scientific research with our patient populace. We expect to grow our Pilot and initiate our research early next year. If the trends continue, we’ll see improvement in resilience and recovery from our kids and a new practice of virtual meditation from our cancer families.
This family centered intervention is attractive to partner hospitals, researchers, supporters and funders.
In the case of 18Loop, we are realizing the that our impact may be wider than we have anticipated.
VR as a technology is relatively new to the public.
The market for VR in 2020 was measured at USD 11.52 billion and is expected to reach USD 87.97 billion by 2025, at 48.7 percent (CAGR) compound annual growth rate. Future use of VR will increase tremendously, and xR technology (including VR, AR and MR) will be ubiquitous in the next decade. This progress is exciting, but not as vital as the rapid adoption of VR in medicine. Some experts and analysts predict that VR immersion in the hospital setting will be commonplace in five years, even resulting in the new staff position of Virtualist, as has been predicted by Dr. Brennan Spiegel in his book VRx.
The new concept of medical VR is that virtual medicine will require a virtual pharmacy with different environmental VR treatment options to fit specific symptoms, with the remedies coming from the Virtualist. At 18Loop, we advocate for Oculus and Tripp because they represent what we believe to be the best technologies for our mission. We have faith that the technology that we bring to bear in the fight against pediatric cancer will be effective. One of 18Loop’s overarching goals is to correlate VR impact with an increase in the overall pediatric cancer survival rate. This bold goal would have been laughable ten years ago, but the technological progress with VR and the amazing work with environmental development has put it put it within reach.
Technologists understand Moore’s law and we also understand the commoditization of computing hardware.
As processing power gets better, wide adoption and market forces eventually drive the price down. The Oculus Quest 2 that will power our study runs on a powerful Qualcomm chip and retails for USD $300 to consumers. This stands in stark contrast to larger, more cumbersome and less powerful equipment being used ten to fifteen years ago priced above USD $50,000. Some hospitals are now offering VR for staff training as well as pain management, but until this process is completely ubiquitous, 18Loop will have a mission in helping our cancer kids and families. Now is the time for VR in pediatric oncology.
Please help fund us and help us help our kids tolerate treatment, recover and thrive!
Greg Tarnacki is the Executive Director and Founder of 18Loop, a 501(c)(3) GuideStar Gold nonprofit that deploys Virtual Reality in order to help pediatric oncology patients tolerate treatment, recover and thrive. He is focused on public service, especially where technology can be leveraged for the greater good.
Greg spent almost 20 years in technology sales working on network infrastructure, business intelligence, cloud and IT consulting initiatives with clients like ABN Amro, Bloomberg, Bristol Myers Squibb, CBS, Ernst and Young, Goldman Sachs and the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC). He founded CloudScience Group, a Value Added Reseller of boutique cloud solutions focused on the Virtual Private Data Center.
After his last role in private sector technology sales, Greg joined Americorps. In Americorps, he served a volunteer year helping Opportunity Youth in Newark, NJ prepare for college and careers in its ServiceWorks program. This service, combined with his volunteer work at University Community Social Services Meatloaf Kitchen on New York’s lower East Side was the catalyst for founding a nonprofit. 18Loop is the culmination of all Greg has learned about the technology sector and service to the community.
Greg earned a Bachelor’s Degree (BA) from Seton Hall University, and holds certificates from MIT (Artificial Intelligence) and Oxford (Blockchain). Currently, his learning focus is on Data Science and Spatial Computing. This focus will strengthen his overall technical proficiency as will his studies that pertain to xR’s underlying cloud architecture. Greg is a HIMSS-NJ member and lives and works in Rutherford, NJ. He is HIPAA certified.