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Wireless Headband Eases Discomfort at Southern Hills Hospital

The Las Vegas facility is trialing a system that measures a patient's brain waves and—based on that data—delivers games, music and video content via a tablet in order to lessen pain, anxiety or nausea.
By Claire Swedberg

The brain-wave data is used only for discomfort management, with no EEG data or other personal information saved. However, says Maura Wright, Southern Hills Hospital's chief nursing officer, once finished with the device, patients are invited to fill out a questionnaire to indicate their satisfaction with it. That data is then forwarded to AccendoWave' server via a cellular connection provided by AT&T, and is shared with the hospital so that it can assess the system's effectiveness.

Maura Wright, Southern Hills' CNO
Health-care providers can also view the comfort-level data on the tablet screen while the patient is wearing the sensor headband, Wright says, in order to assess how much pain or discomfort that individual is experiencing. But if drugs become necessary, she notes, they don't specifically use the AccendoWave-based data to assess the amount of medication they should administer. Instead, it provides a confirmation as to whether the proper care is being provided. "From a clinical standpoint," she explains, "it gives us a better picture" of the patient's discomfort level than simply relying on his or her own reported distress.

Rudd says he was skeptical when he was introduced to the technology. "I put it on and I looked like something from Back to the Future," he recalls. However, he is now convinced that the system is proving to help many patients. "As diversionary therapy, it's very impactful."

When the devices were being designed, Lawrence says, it was important to employ a wireless system, to ensure that no cord would be necessary between the electrodes and the tablet. "Folks are already connected to so many things" in a hospital, she points out. If a wire were used to transmit data to the tablet, it would require that patients and personnel fiddle with and untangle that cord, which could be especially complicated if there were other cords in the patient's vicinity.

AccendoWave's Martha Lawrence
Since the system was taken live at the hospital in October, 1,600 patients have used the device to date, and more than 450 have completed surveys afterwards regarding their experience. More than 90 percent of responders reported viewing the system in a positive light.

The hospital next intends to roll out the technology within its other departments, as well as in an expanded area currently under construction. That area, which will feature 46 more beds, is expected to open in March 2016.

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