VR App “Sidetracked!” for the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore

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Client: Montefiore Health System

Location: Bronx, NY, United States

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $25,000

Project Team

Art Consultant

Kenise Barnes

Kenise Barnes Fine Art

Art Consultant

Olivia Davis

Montefiore Health System

Artist

Timothy Arment

Industry Resource

Ross Tredinnick

Overview

A virtual reality expedition, “Sidetracked!” offers a free-spirited trek through a rambling landscape of deep woods, high cliffs, sunflower fields and sunlit beaches. It swings from wide-ranging vistas to detailed, intimate spaces.”Sidetracked!” was created by Lisa A. Frank and her team of innovators for the Montefiore Health System. The project was specifically developed as a pain management tool for the Children’s Hospital. It is designed for use with an Oculus headset and controller. While confined to a bed, wheelchair or hospital room, a player can explore for 30 minutes and still leave plenty for later discovery.

Goals

The Montefiore Health System, in partnership with artist Lisa A. Frank, is committed to uniting art, technology and medicine for the benefit of patients in the Bronx, the Hudson Valley and Westchester County. The belief that art heals was the catalyst for this commission. Virtual reality’s use in a healthcare setting has been proven to alleviate pain, stress and anxiety in pediatric and adult patients. Through VR technology and Lisa A. Frank’s artistic vision, "Sidetracked!" allows patients an escape to a magical world. Using an Oculus headset and controller, voyagers explore the map by foot and by canoe; they might swim underwater and bob buoyantly on its surface. They can create and send post cards of favorite vistas to friends and are joined in the journey by a companion dog. Although there is a marked pathway to follow, getting off track is part of the fun. By providing ample diversion and temporarily alleviating suffering, immersive experiences are the future of pain management and opioid use reduction. Frank’s team produced this VR experience to be a transcendent experience for children and adults. This remarkable intersection of art and pain management signals a new direction in healthcare.

Process

"Sidetracked!" is an offshoot of the initial android app "Wonder Walk" created by Lisa Frank and her team. Originally Lisa Frank was contacted by Olivia Davis and Kenise Barnes about the commission of a VR app for a pain study that the Children’s Hospital was conducting. This opportunity was formalized in November, 2017 with the following goals: The app will be designed for 8-21 year olds; it will be constructed so that multiple uses create new encounters; it will include a variety of elements that allow patients to cope with stress, pain, and boredom; and it will be designed for use with GearVR. Additional resources were found that allowed Lisa Frank to take a more free-wheeling and undeterred approach using Oculus equipment. Without the limitations of designing for android, "Sidetracked!" presents an expansive and visually sophisticated environment with more interactive capabilities. Building on their experiences, Lisa Frank continues to collaborate with computer programmer, Ross Tredinnick and VR artist and videographer, Timothy Arment.

Additional Information

Frank’s project will be part of an internal review board study focused on sickle cell, oncology, and bone marrow transplant pediatric patients. By using "Wonder Walk" to better understand neuro-experiences and pain management, we ultimately want to create a VR Pharmacy to provide innovative relief and to stem the opioid epidemic. The artist was chosen for her long commitment to healing in healthcare which has been a focus since 2011. Her development team shares this commitment and brings personal pain management experiences to the design and execution of the concept.