Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Scared Healthy

PostedOctober 30, 2011

Download File (mp3)

Anchor Lede: Halloween is every day at a medical center where doctors are using the latest virtual reality technology to scare people, on the way to curing them. 

Randy Atkins: Many people have, say, a fear of flying. So, without leaving the ground, Mark Wiederhold, of the Virtual Reality Medical Center, gradually gets such patients to strap themselves into an airplane seat while wearing sophisticated headgear over their eyes and ears…

Mark Wiederhold: …which puts them in an immersive 360-degree environment inside a plane. We have 3-D audio, we have a vibrating platform so you can feel the vibration of the engines.

Randy Atkins: Wiederhold even introduces smells, like coffee, and…

Mark Wiederhold: …lightning, thunder, turbulence…

Randy Atkins: …as he monitors patients’ vital signs looking for fear.

Mark Wiederhold: And then we spend a lot of time teaching them skills to deal with those fearful responses.

Randy Atkins: Like breathing control and thought stopping. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.