A virtual reality therapy experience designed to help children manage the stress and anxiety of their cancer treatment has taken top prize at a recent innovation conteset judged by Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec
The C3Prize is a contest that was launched to inspire new, non-medicine ideas to improve the care provided to patients with cancer.
Robert Herjavec, best known for being one of the entrepreneurial sharks on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” helped to judge this years C3Prize.
Back in September, five finalists were selected to present their ideas to Herjavec and other experts at the Stanford Medicine X conference.
“We saw everything from a ride-sharing program for people with cancer to a light source product, so there was a lot of stuff that really made people’s lives easier,” said Herjavec.
The grand prize winner was Diane Jooris, of Belgium, who is the co-founder of Oncomfort, a company that designs virtual reality programs to help children with cancer deal with the stress and anxiety that comes at at all stages of their treatment.
Jooris said: “It’s very difficult for a child to envision how chemotherapy works into the body, so the goal of one of our models is really to show to the kids what happens to the body— so it de-traumatizes chemotherapy, makes them feel part of the therapy and they’re having fun.”
The VR experience, designed by Jooris’s team and with the help of mental health professionals and oncology specialists, works by immersing the child in a virtual environment where the cancer treatment can be explained in a game format.
“It’s a game that has been designed to help them visualize what happens with chemotherapy through the treatment. So they navigate through the blood vessels, and they send chemo juice to the cancer cells, so they are destroying cancer cells, not the healthy cells,” Jooris said.
Jooris worked closely with mental health professionals and oncology specialists to help make the program optimal and kid-friendly.
For more information on C3 Prize challenge, visit c3prize.com