Patients in Wales could soon see virtual reality become an everyday part of their medical treatment plans, thanks to ground-breaking research and development by a Welsh tech company.
Cardiff-based Rescape Innovation is pioneering the use of virtual reality (VR) to support patient recovery and rehabilitation. The company’s technology is used to solve a range of challenges found in healthcare including reducing pain and anxiety, managing stress and improving overall patient experiences.
Launched in 2018, a successful first year of business has seen the firm secure a six-figure funding deal to invest in further product development and expansion. Rescape has now revealed it is exploring how its revolutionary technology could be used to treat a wide number of health conditions and concerns.
The company is currently developing a product to help patients in intensive care units. Initial trials have shown positive results, not only pointing to a reduction in pain and anxiety among critically ill patients, but also helping them to recover more quickly.
With an intensive care bed costing the NHS an average of £2,000 per night, the company believes new technology could bring huge cost savings to Wales’ health service, as well as improved health and wellbeing for patients.
Rescape has experienced significant growth since it was first established in December 2018. Today, its products are used by over 25 health boards and hospitals across England and Wales – a figure it hopes to treble by the end of 2020.
Developed in collaboration with Welsh patients and healthcare professionals, the company’s flagship products, ‘DR.VR®,’ and the recently launched paediatric focused DR.VR® Junior, have already helped position the business as a market leader in both the UK and further afield.
VR distraction therapy works by tricking the brain into thinking it is present in another reality. The result is that the brain is overwhelmed with information leading to a reduction in pain and anxiety. The technology has been proven to reduce pain and anxiety by allowing patients an escape to a variety of immersive experiences, from snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef and climbing Machu Picchu to exploring Times Square and relaxing on a beach.
Following the success of DR.VR®, Rescape is working to develop new applications for its technology. As well as exploring how virtual reality could help patients in intensive care units, palliative care and dementia wards, the firm is trialling how VR and distraction technology could support women in labour, helping them to relax, stay calm and ‘escape’ the confides of a maternity ward via a headset.
Matt Wordley, CEO at Rescape Innovation said: “When it comes to healthcare, the applications of VR are still somewhat under used and under explored, but we are determined to change this. Virtual reality offers huge potential to transform the health and wellbeing of patients as well as the ability to help reduce anxiety in patients, their families and medical staff.
“VR has been proven for many years to be effective in treating anxiety and pain and we’ve seen first-hand just how effective it can be helping people in many different environments and across a range of conditions. This has inspired us to develop and add to the applications of VR in the health sector, helping it reach its full potential.”
Key to Rescape’s growth over the last year has been the support it has received from the Life Sciences Hub Wales, which has provided it with advice and guidance on entering the world of healthcare as well as support to connect with key contacts in the sector.
Cari-Anne Quinn, CEO at Life Sciences Hub Wales: “The pioneering work that Rescape is doing is a perfect example of the incredible innovation and talent that we have here in Wales’ life sciences industry. Rescape’s technology will have tremendous benefits for patients in the UK and further beyond, helping to put Wales on the world stage. We are proud to have been able to support and assist this fantastic development.”
Matt Wordley added: “The last year has been an amazing journey for Rescape. Having come from a tech agency background, we had limited knowledge of the healthcare sector but have collaborated with healthcare professionals and industry experts to grow the company and develop our ideas.
“We’ve grown significantly in the last 12 month and the demand we have seen for our products demonstrates the appetite and need for VR solutions in healthcare. We’ve working on some exciting projects and are looking forward to seeing what’s next for Rescape.”