student using VR and controller


Medical virtual reality is an evolving therapy, allowing for more treatment options than medication alone. Studies over the past decade indicate that VR improves patient well-being and decreases fear and anxiety during hospital visits. While existing healthcare VR programs use off-the-shelf experiences that involve gaming or meditative approaches, Montefiore is unique in its approach to diminishing anxiety, pain, and opioid addiction through stimulus-rich and curated artistic environments. Patient experiences will serve as “immersive analgesics,” allowing physicians to improve health and hospital experiences and reduce reliance on pain medication.


Christopher’s commission, the first the VRFA has awarded, is the inaugural piece for Montefiore’s library of original VR artwork that patients and their physicians can access as part of the Fine Art Program and Collection. Medical staff will then utilize state-of-the-art equipment to assess and analyze patients’ neuro-responses, heart rates, pressures, and skin conductances to gather advanced metrics. Preliminary testing has shown promising data to confirm VRFA’s positive effects on patients.
Original illustration of police officer used as the basis for the virtual reality
artist Tom Christopher at table sorting through images

Status Update

With further testing, VRFA may well become the standard in providing a medication-free management tool to decrease patient anxiety, fear, and pain. Additional applications, including the impact on widespread healthcare crises such as the national heroin epidemic, are also promising.
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