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Supporting children with medical conditions through the power of storytelling using virtual reality

Posted: 24th February 2021

Yorkshire & Humber AHSN are sponsors of next week’s Child Health Technology Conference 2021, an event for innovators and businesses to discuss the opportunities for cross-disciplinary networking and collaboration to ensure young people across the UK receive the best healthcare. We’ve been supporting the development, adoption and spread of child health innovations since our inception and this week we’re featuring some of the innovators that we’re currently working with in the region. In this article we focus on I.M.M.E. 

As part of our regional digital health accelerator, Propel@YH, organisations from across the world are supported to bring their innovative digital health solutions to the region’s patients and the wider health economy. One of the companies taking part in this year’s programme is I.M.M.E, a VR experience created to support Williams syndrome, supporting isolation, rehab mobility and mental health in young people. 

The platform was inspired by creator Craig Chaytor’s daughter Imogen, who has a neurodevelopmental genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome, when he noticed she became distressed by using her brothers VR set, finding the experience overwhelming and a sensory overload.  

This led to Craig researching into the sensory atmosphere, Virtual Reality, filming and audio, eventually moving into him creating simple, sensory-friendly VR programmes for her to enjoy. Her use of the programmes meant that both Craig and her teachers saw an improvement in both her health and education, including improvement in her speech, her memory capability and her mobility skills, due to the platform encouraging her to walk around and strengthen her legs.  

This led to Imogen’s school trialling the application on her class, which included many children who have different disabilities that affected them. Every single child that used the platform had a positive reaction, and Craig knew that what he’d created for his daughter had the potential to help so many other children.   

I.M.M.E, which stands for Imagine Making Memories Everywhere, has since evolved to a platform which provides support for children who are in hospital and are feeling anxious or scared. If a doctor wants to perform a medical procedure on a child, they can use the product to help calm them and reassure them. It can also help within the education system where schools can use it to help others. 

Craig successfully applied for the Propel@YH 2020 programme after meeting with the Barclays Eagle Labs team, a partner of the accelerator, and is currently making a functional prototype of the platform.  

To find out more visit: Propel@YH