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Texas Children's Hospital is using virtual reality to calm kids before surgery

Texas Children's Hospital becomes second in the country to use VR headsets in pre-op.

HOUSTON — Getting wheeled into the operating room is scary but when you're a kid, frankly, it can freak you out. 

"It's really hard for them to understand they'll be going away with strangers into a bright scary room with people they don't know," said Dr. Kathleen Chen, an anesthesiologist at Texas Children's Hospital.

But now, new technology at Texas Children's Hospital is making the surgical experience on children easier. 

For kids 10 and older, anesthesiologists are using virtual reality headsets donated by the Starlight Foundation to take the anxiety out of pre-op. 

"Once the goggles are on, they're 100 percent immersed," Chen said. 

The goggles distract the patients and allow them to play games while they get IV's or are moved into surgery. 

If they're younger they get to use BERT, short for "Bedside Entertainment Relaxation Theater." It's a device that projects movies or games onto the wall. It helps doctors relax children as young as 3 years old in the pre-op room, makes separation from parents smoother and takes the fear out of being put to sleep. 

"In this world, they're completely distracted from all the medical things going on around them," said Dr. Clint Fuller.

Anesthesiologists say it's a valuable tool that can be used instead of medication. It also makes for a less painful post op. 

"Throughout the whole induction she was just really focused on feeding the dragon," said Fuller. "When she woke up in the recovery all she wanted was the dragon."

Doctors say the technology is also effective with adults and will likely continue to spread to hospitals across the country.