News, NHS trust

VR software creates “immersive environment” to help young people with stammer in Barnsley

Barnsley children’s and adult’s speech and language therapy team at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is utilising virtual reality software with the aim of supporting children and young people who stammer, providing them with an immersive environment in which to practise “everyday speaking situations in a safe space with the support of a therapist”.

The withVR software is designed to present real-life immersive situations for young people, such as classrooms and cafes, giving them a chance to work through their therapy in a realistic environment with a therapist present to support them. The trust hopes that withVR can help “bridge the gap between speaking within the safety of the clinic environment and the real world, and better prepare someone for real life speaking situations.”

Pointing out that the clinic environment alone “does not provide sufficient challenge or realism” as it enables the therapist to offer support in situations where they would not usually be able to, speech and language therapist Nicola Maddy described how use of the software can “gradually extend a person’s comfort, confidence and ease of talking where the real situation can be too much of a leap”.

She added: “We are really excited and privileged to use this technology to support people to achieve their potential. Our children and young people literally can’t believe their eyes when they enter the clinic room and see what we will be using. They also love to help the team with setting up the headsets – this in itself is therapeutic as it builds rapport, connection and encourages them to use their voice.”

Funding from the trust’s charity, EyUp!, has enabled the purchase of the new VR headsets and software.

Earlier this year, we took a deep dive into the use of VR in health tech, taking a look at some of the developments which have emerged over the last couple of years.

Also from Barnsley, we looked at a recently published case study from Microsoft on a partnership between Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and OX.DH, to deploy Microsoft technologies for video consultations, with the aim of delivering a “familiar, intuitive, integrated and easy-to-use solution”.