Researchers at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust have helped organised a ‘hackathon’ to develop virtual reality (VR) tools for patients.

The team – which included researchers from and Teesside University – worked together to coordinate the UK Hackathon on 4 and 5 July 2018 at Brunel University in London.

Together with young people and adults with disabilities and their families and patients, the team laid out issues and challenges faced in treating various health problems, such as managing pain, controlling movement and encouraging physical and social activity.

Developers were then tasked with coming up with ideas for digital and VR solutions, which will help address these issues and concerns.

Those who come up with the best ideas will be invited back to develop prototypes and pitch their solutions to a panel of experts in a number of ‘game jams’.

A winner will be chosen in each theme and they will then work with the VR4Rehab team to bring their idea to market.

The UK ‘hackathon’ is one of many taking place across Europe.

The aim is to bring together developers in VR and digital technology with clinical experts, academics and researchers from the various partners.

Speaking before the event, Dr Dido Green, specialist research therapist at the Royal Free Hospital and one of the project leads, said: “I am excited by the opportunities this project has to link experts in health, innovation and business to address issues confronting the delivery of excellent health care.

“Digital technologies and virtual reality are showing great potential to address the need for intensive therapies that can be delivered in accessible environments.”

The international project is being funded for three years, with the first year spent setting up the ‘hackathons’ across Europe, the second year seeing the ideas developed from the ‘game jams’ tested across North West Europe, and the third year dedicated to the winners working with the VR4Rehab team to fully develop and roll out their ideas.