The Cleft Lip Education Augmented Reality (CLEAR) technology, which explains complex procedures to patients and their families, is currently being trialled in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Taking inspiration from the Harry Potter newspapers that ‘come to life’, the technology creates an immersive learning experience to help families better understand what will happen during surgery.
Laura and James Ashworth, who are first-time parents to four-month-old Helena, have nothing but praise for the technology.
Laura, who is from Pollok, said: “We got Helena’s diagnosis at our 20-week scan and it is a worrying time, your mind starts racing, and you start to worry about the future, if she will be okay, if she will be picked on at school for being different.
“It’s a stressful time and you’re getting a lot of leaflets and information about what is going on, it can be a lot to process and take in, so this app is great as it explained everything in a way that we hadn’t been shown before.
“I really like how interactive it is and how it guides you through what will happen before allowing you to learn more by focusing on different parts of the model.”
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James added: “This app is amazing, I think it will help more families gain a deeper understanding of what they can expect from surgery.
“We weren’t sure what surgeons would do to Helena’s nose during the procedure, but this has explained it perfectly and we now know what to expect.”
Through the West of Scotland Innovation Hub (WoS Hub), the patient app was co-developed by Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit, The Glasgow School of Art, and The National Cleft Service for Scotland.
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Professor Steven Lo, consultant plastic surgeon and WoS Innovation Hub fellow, said: “It’s great to get such positive feedback on this world-first technology, as it has been developed with patient input.
“We wanted to give patients’ families the opportunity to learn more about what was going on in a visual way.”
Kirsten Watson, CEO of Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, which funded the project, said: “We are delighted to have been able to provide vital funding to support the hospital’s use of augmented reality technology specifically to support families whose children are undergoing cleft lip and palate reconstruction.
“With this investment, we are confident that we will see improved outcomes for children undergoing these complex procedures.”