Cutting edge gaming equipment has been donated to children at hospitals across the north and north-east in an effort to improve their stays in hospital.
Young patients in the ARCHIE Foundation ward at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary received two virtual reality (VR) headsets from the Orion Group, which has offices in Aberdeen and Inverness.
Further sets have been sent to the children’s wards at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
It’s hoped they will lift the spirits of young patients by transporting them outside the confining walls of hospital during their stays.
Eight-year-old Alfie Nicoll, from Inverurie, was the official tester of the Oculus Rift brand gaming devices at ARI yesterday.
Alfie, who has been staying in hospital due to a heart condition, “loves” to play games such as Minecraft and Roblox.
He’d never before had the chance to try virtual reality and the Oculus Rift system swiftly gained his seal of approval.
He described the games as “very good” and Archie Foundation staff were assured that he would make good use of them during his stay.
While Alfie explored Jupiter and went skydiving in his virtual world, Orion IT Director Duncan Murray explained what inspired the company to donate the gaming devices.
He said: “I was watching a documentary about kids who are stuck in hospital and decided it would be a good idea to donate some virtual reality headsets so the youngsters could experience things outside the four walls of the hospital.
“We began talking with the Archie Foundation and play specialist Helen MacCuish about what would benefit the kids.
“The virtual world is a way to take their minds off things and give them the chance to be somewhere else for a little while.
“The company thought it would be a nice thing to do and if we can donate these things and make the kids happy, then we are happy too.”
The VR machines will be used recreationally as well as a means of distraction for young patients going under general anaesthetic or for children who are scared of injections.
The Orion group plans to donate more VR devices to special-needs schools in the north-east and Highlands and has promised to buy replacements for the hospitals and schools if the devices ever break.