Professionals of the College of Health and Sciences Professions at Ohio University have created a virtual reality Narcan simulation. 

The original simulation was developed as a learning intervention that would allow those not associated with the medical field to learn about how to identify an opioid overdose and how to administer the life saving drug of Narcan, according to Sherleena Buchman, assistant professor at the College of Health and Sciences.

“The original Narcan simulation that was developed depicts a college student in a dorm setting that has overdosed on an opioid,” Buchman said. “This scenario developed from an idea that I had while working as a nurse and observing people dropping off their peers that had overdosed at the emergency room entrance and then they would leave.”

Over the summer Buchman worked with a group of people including a student team and Eric Williams, a professor at the College of Media Arts and Studies, from the Scripps College, to turn the old simulation into a virtual reality 360 video. 

According to Williams, the price of the project would cost approximately $15,000-$20,000. 

There was no cost associated with the project because it was part of our initial grant from Ohio University, WIlliams said. 

“In the (new) scenario, the overdose victim’s friends arrive to study and find him unresponsive and have to determine if they should get help and how they should go about providing help,” Buchman said. 

The scenario will focus on the nasal route, as that option is available to most people and can be obtained through Project Dawn at the health department free of charge for those who are worried about a loved one, according to Buchman.   

While the original simulation started in a College of Health and Sciences Professions sponsored interprofessional course, the VR 360 immersion is not for a specific class, according to Buchman. 

Sneha Ray, a masters student of Food Science and Nutritional Studies, and Macy Kuhar, a BSN student, had the opportunity to experience the virtual reality simulation. 

“I think there is so much potential for virtual reality in the future,” Kuhar said. “I can see it being integrated into many aspects of healthcare, especially for educational purposes and mental health.”

Ray described the simulation video where a student in his 20's had taken a drug in his dorm room and the student’s friends took immediate action to save his life.

“The 360 degree view through the ocular virtual reality glasses made me feel that I was present at the incident place and things actually happening before my eyes,” Ray said. “Dr. Buchman together with her team has done a great job not only for teaching the nursing students but also a source of awareness for the general public about the use of the drug.” 

According to Buchman, OUPD is not involved with the simulation at the moment, but a member of the team is reaching out to OUPD to gain any insight they may have on enhancing the current scenario, as well as verifying the accuracy from the law enforcement side.  

It is anticipated that up to eight students at a time will be able to experience the VR Narcan immersive simulation experience video through the current ocular delivery mode. However, further development of the VR immersion is underway that may make it possible for an unlimited amount of persons to view on their own smartphones. 

“In the future, we plan to host viewing stations for other members of Ohio’s family to come and experience finding a person who has overdosed and witnessing treatment with Narcan,” Buchman said. 

Anyone interested in viewing the pilot video can get in contact with Buchman or Williams to coordinate a viewing time. The College Health and Sciences Professions plans on hosting a large viewing event upon the completion of the VR Narcan immersion video.