Moffitt Cancer Center and Ringling College Present New Developments Using Virtual Reality and Gamification in MRI-guided Radiation Therapy

Health + Wellness

Video still courtesy of The Ringling College and Moffitt Cancer Center

Ringling College of Art and Design and Moffitt Cancer Center presented an update on new developments from their collaborative INDEX Virtual Reality project to enhance the cancer patient experience and improve the accuracy of MRI-guided Radiation Therapy (MRgRT). The Moffitt/Ringling College partnership began in 2019 to explore the creation of meaningful digital technologies to help decrease stress and enhance understanding for newly diagnosed patients during their journey, and discover new ways in which to train and coach patients through diagnosis and treatment. 

“Patient stress levels at the time of a cancer diagnosis are very high, and core to addressing some of that stress is reducing fear of the unknown. In my practice, we need to deliver highly precise treatment so patient cooperation is essential. To be able to deliver immersive content through VR headsets can serve to alleviate some of that stress by allowing a new patient to virtually walk-through the experience before beginning their treatment,” said program visionary Sarah Hoffe, M.D., Moffitt Cancer Center’s section head of Gastrointestinal Radiation Oncology. “This summer we explored using gamification and virtual reality to improve patient relaxation and stillness while undergoing tightly-focused and targeted MRgRT,” continued Dr. Hoffe. “We started exploring how to train patients to control their breathing with Ringling College VR Interim Department Head Morgan Woolverton, VR Faculty Marty Murphy, VR Program Advisor Jeff Hazelton, and the VR Program student chosen for this application development, senior Joseph Janssen. We collaborated on this project with many faculty and staff at Moffitt as well, including Ted Schilowitz who is a member of our national Board of Advisors and also a futurist at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood and our physicist Kujtim Latifi PhD.”

“Based on the success of our first project together, the future of our Moffitt/Ringling collaboration is bright,” said Dr. Hoffe. “Being able to collaborate with some of the most innovative VR faculty and students in the world opens up many exciting new possibilities for improving the patient experience. We look forward to continuing this exploration of the intersection of VR with the cancer patient journey and hope to expand this work further so that our patients can virtually receive care before they do so in real life. We believe by offering them a virtual journey first we can decrease their fear and anxiety and ensure they are optimally prepared for their treatment experience.”

Video still courtesy of The Ringling College and Moffitt Cancer Center

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