By Dr Arno Ebner, MD PhD, FRACP, Paediatrician, Cairns, QLD


Dr Arno Ebner

Dear all

Welcome to my second blog of the year. I have just been to the fantastic full day pre-conference workshop at the 2019 APS conference at the Gold Coast (#AusPainSoc). If you missed it, don’t forget to go next year in Tasmania, it will be absolutely worth it.

One of the presentations that especially fascinated me, was about a Virtual Reality tool to minimise the pain and anxiety experience of venipunctures and IV cannulation

Dr Evelyn Chan and Dr Paul Leong introduced their virtual reality headset the ‘Smileyscope’ which lets you dive under the ocean and when a Clown fish starts nibbling at your arm the venepuncture is taking place.

We all had a go with the device, and it was really fun to watch the underwater world and the friendly fish poking at your arm. Though we missed the actual needle stick sensation, it was easy to imagine how well the beautiful distraction would work for an anxious child.

Have a look at the videos via this article.

The ‘Smileyscope’ was studied on 252 children aged 4-11 across two Australian Paediatric centres and successfully reduced pain and anxiety when compared to the standard of care of care control group.

The article is just in press (Evelyn Chan et al, Virtual Reality for Pediatric Needle Procedural Pain: Two Randomized Clinical Trials; The Journal of Pediatrics) and can be accessed here for a limited time.

VR is becoming of increasing interest and usage in the management of pain. There are a few applications available and underwater and forests scenes are a popular environment. These applications are working mostly as a more immersive distraction than TV, but I have not seen an application specifically for procedural pain management on the market yet.

If you are interested to get more information, Dr Paul Leong is happy to be contacted directly at

20190506 APS_PinCSIG_Blog_VR_AE_MAY19

I can be contacted via the APS secretariat at

About Australian Pain Society

The Australian Pain Society is a multidisciplinary body aiming to relieve pain and related suffering through leadership in clinical practice, education, research and public advocacy.


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