Ireland- based Portiuncula University Hospital has launched the Little Journey virtual reality app for children.

Children between the ages of 3 and 12 can use the Little Journey app to calm their anxiety before surgery and prepare for their hospital stay.

The Little Journey app offers 360-degree views of all the hospital areas the kids will visit.

Furthermore, the app will provide useful information about anaesthesiology suited to the kid’s age.

Portiuncula University Hospital consultant anaesthesiologist Dr Vinod Sudhir said: “Children may have anxiety around the multidisciplinary environment of theatre, their expectation of events, meeting unfamiliar people and even fear of pain.

“By providing information through the app, which uses child-friendly animation, we can begin to prepare parents/guardians and children for surgery and ease their distress.

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“The ‘Little Journey’ app was developed to help change the way children experience hospitals by empowering them and giving them the information they need to reduce their anxiety in a fun, interactive format.”

It helps children familiarise themselves with the hospital. With the handy checklists that are included, families can prepare in advance of the hospital stay.

Hospital manager James Keane said: “The introduction of the ‘Little Journey’ app is a fantastic example of the dedication of a multidisciplinary team – which includes theatre staff nurses, ancillary staff members in the operating theatres, paediatric unit staff, anaesthesiologists, surgeons, paediatricians and emergency medicine colleagues working together to ensure children and their parents are able to prepare for surgery in the best possible way.”

The Little Journey app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store or App Store.

Children can find out more about what to expect on the day of their procedure, meet the animated healthcare characters who will explain what they do, and see some of the equipment that will be used to care for them through the app.