VRHealth has exclusively unveiled to MobiHealthNews a virtual reality product called Luna that was designed to help patients manage hot flashes.
The new VR product, which can be used by patients going through menopause or chemotherapy treatment, employs cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It also gives users a data analysis of their treatment.
When a user puts on the VR headset, they are greeted by an AI trainer called Luna who guides users through CBT and other coping mechanisms. The technology also lets users virtually travel to another environment.
“That trainer you can take to different places. One part of the app is called practice breathing in an environment. It [let’s you] see how you breath,” Eran Orr, CEO of VRHealth, told MobiHealthNews. “Users can actually see the environment and go into a lake or waterfall.”
While the technology will first be given to patients in a hospital setting, Orr said that the idea is for the system to go home with the patients.
“Patients will be introduced to it during chemotherapy or treatment in the hospital and will take [the] headset back home,” he said. “It is an AI that is basically a trainer that follows improvement and can be adjusted automatically.”
The idea for Luna came out of a personal connection. One of the members of the VRHealth team developed the idea for the technology after undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and experiencing hot flashes as a side effect.
Orr said that Luna will officially launch in January of 2019 at CES.
Why it matters
Hot flashes, which are often triggered by a hormone drop, are associated with breast cancer chemotherapy and surgery to remove the ovaries as well as menopause, according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). While women are most likely to experience hot flashes, the CTCA said that men can also experience the condition.
Common treatment options include hormone therapy, antidepressants and other prescription medications, according to the Mayo Clinic. Alternative medicine including meditation, acupuncture and CBT are also used.
VRHealth is pitching this technology as another avenue to treat the condition, and Orr hinted that in yet-to-be-released clinical trials Luna outperformed medications for hot flash treatment.
What's the trend
VRHealth was in the news in September when it teamed up with Facebook's Oculus, which makes VR hardware and other related products, on a range of healthcare-focused VR applications to be delivered on the latter’s hardware.
VR as a whole is growing. Many in healthcare are looking to the technology to help with pain, discomfort and anxiety. Clinicians are deploying it in a wide range of settings including obstetrics, pediatrics and rehabilitation.
On the record
“We believe VR can be an amazing replacement for opiates or any kind of nonnatural hormone and the most common treatments that have a lot of side effects,” Orr said. “We believe VR could be a good solution.”