Virtual Reality during Intrathecal Pump Refills in Children: A Case Series

J Clin Med. 2022 Oct 5;11(19):5877. doi: 10.3390/jcm11195877.


Virtual reality has proven to be an effective approach to decrease pain in acute settings, both in adults and children. The aim of this study is to evaluate whether virtual reality (VR) could reduce pain during an intrathecal pump refill procedure in children receiving intrathecal drug delivery, compared to a standard refill procedure. This is a three-arm crossover randomized controlled trial, evaluating the effect of VR on pain in children with cerebral palsy undergoing an intrathecal pump refill compared to a standard refill and a refill with distraction (watching a video). Pain was evaluated using the Wong-Baker Faces Scale. Secondary outcomes were procedural pain, fear, state anxiety, the incidence of adverse events and satisfaction. Six children participated in this study, whereby all children underwent the three conditions. Five children indicated an equal of lower pain score during VR, compared to a standard refill. This finding of an equal or lower pain intensity score for the VR condition compared to the control condition was also revealed by the ratings of the parents, physician and the researcher. The influence of VR on anxiety and fear seem to be in line with the influence of watching a video. In terms of satisfaction, all children and parents agreed with the statement that they would like to use VR again for a next refill. Due to the lack of adverse events, the high degree of satisfaction of children with VR and the decreased pain levels after a refill with VR, physicians may aim to explore the implementation of VR during intrathecal pump refill procedures in children in a daily clinical routine care setting.

Keywords: children; distraction; immersive technology; neuromodulation; personalized care.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.