3-D Live Interaction Can Entertain, But Also Help Heal

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As any parent knows, distraction, especially if it comes with 3-D technology and is interactive can have a powerful hold on the young.

Just try to get your teenager's attention away from his X-Box or Wii.

It turns out similar technology can have a powerful use in medicine.

"Aladdin", the current stage show at the El Dorado, combines 3-D projection with live stage performers. Its audiences may be mesmerized by the effects of the specialized equipment, but youngsters with painful injuries or undergoing uncomfortable medical procedures will soon appreciate its draw.

The special equipment used in the show will be donated to Renown Medical Center by the show's producers working with the Children's Miracle Network and the Osmond Foundation.

There it will be used to distract young brains from pain.

It turns out the brain can only handle so much input at a time and, given the choice, it will gladly concentrate on the distracting pleasure of 3-D sights and sounds and ignore pain signals.

It's called the "Gate effect."

"If we are distracting a patient then something through something that's painful or traumatic or invasive, there might be some perceived pain,," says Renown Medical Center Child Life Specialist Angie McEvers. "We can distract their attention to where they can get through it with less pain if not no pain."

McEvers says we all make use of distraction when say, we slam our fingers in a door. We reflexively shake our hand and it hurts less.

The technology was developed in Britain for shows like Aladdin, but its inventors realized it could have a more serious use. Now the equipment is in 50 different hospitals in the United Kingdom.

Only one U.S. hospital has it, but Renown is about to become the second.

McEvers says she can't wait to see it in action. "I*m excited," she says. "There's also the chance to do some research with its effect."

While Renown will get the equipment from the Aladdin show, there may be more to follow.

Jimmy Osmond, of the Osmond Brothers and his family's foundation, attended the press conference.; He says plans are to raise funds for an additional unit for Renown.