NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- BehaVR today announced its direct-to-consumer launch of NurtureVR, a first-of-its-kind program to liberate expectant mothers from stress, anxiety and fear through the power of virtual reality. NurtureVR uses the proven, neurological power of virtual reality to help moms step into motherhood through a calming, immersive environment rooted in education and experience like mindfulness, meditation, and breastfeeding support, that promote self-care and increased resilience.
Increased rates of stress, anxiety, fear and depression in pregnant women have been connected to shortened gestation periods and preterm delivery — birthing factors that contribute to the high rates of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. BehaVR expedited its planned introduction of NurtureVR directly-to-consumer (vs. only via health providers) as pregnant women in the U.S. are now experiencing doubled levels of maternal depression and anxiety due to the pandemic, reinforced by the latest Delta Variant concerns. Further, our nation's health care system is also suffering from its own levels of physical and mental burnout and understaffing, making the promotion of self-directed mental health care especially timely as demand for care is currently overtaking available supply.
"Now is a crucial time to bring forth digital health solutions for moms, their families, as well as health providers that offer high-quality, self-directed care from the safety, comfort and privacy of home," said Aaron Gani, founder and CEO of BehaVR. "With the headset on, mom is immersed in an empowering world that calms and carries her, and even her partner, through the most critical phases of the perinatal experience. Feedback has been very strong from early adopters. BehaVR is proud to be the first to offer a VR solution like this as well as others that will change how we deliver mental healthcare at scale in our country."
NurtureVR was built on decades of scientific research into VR's ability to mitigate pain related to pregnancy by creating experiential learning environments that reduce stress and improve wellbeing. NurtureVR is a first-of-its-kind VR program developed in deep collaboration with moms, physicians, nurses and midwives at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian. It takes mom on a 22-week journey, from her third trimester through eight weeks of postpartum content, covering issues such as maternal-baby bonding, partner intimacy, stress management and hormonal and emotional changes.
"A growing body of research has shown how virtual reality can effectively work with the brain to help mitigate stress, tame anxiety and extinguish fear," said Robert G. Louis, M.D., F.A.A.N.S., Chief of Neurosurgery Services and the Empower 360 Endowed Chair for Skull Base and Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery at the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag. "In NurtureVR, the immersive, calming environment helps to ease the brain into a less activated state where educational information about pregnancy can be better received, and the building of coping and resiliency skills can be better formed, offering moms critical tools that can be drawn upon throughout pregnancy, birth, and the first weeks of motherhood, combating against perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs)."
An integral component of NurtureVR is the option to "pay it forward." Thanks to BehaVR's partnership with Reach, a 501(c)(3) global social impact organization and founder of the National Save Moms Campaign (Save Moms) for maternal mortality and morbidity prevention, moms can support other moms-in-need. Under the "maternal health-pay it forward" program moms can donate their NurtureVR headset to Save Moms at no additional shipping cost after completing the 22-week program. Reach will then forward that headset to the mom-in-need, as identified by Reach's many trusted community-based maternal health collaborators. The goal of this partnership is to uplift the voices and lived experiences of pregnant women in marginalized and low-income communities while increasing access for NurtureVR.
"One of the well documented areas of opportunity in the application of digital technology is in addressing the needs of the medically underserved," said Dr. Fran Ayalasomayajula, MPH, PMP, president and founder Reach, who has published on the topic. "Although digital health platforms are demonstrating clinical efficacy in identifying high risk pregnancy and helping to prevent further complications, the adoption among providers remains low, and populations who have the potential to gain the most are not being reached. We are proud to work with BehaVR to help ensure underserved communities are reached with this incredible program."
About BehaVR BehaVR is a new kind of digital therapeutics company dedicated to tackling the epidemic of anxiety-related challenges and disorders, to help curb chronic disease at scale using the neurological power of VR. Partnering with the country's leading academic institutions, research institutes and pharmaceutical companies, we innovate at the intersection of behavioral science, virtual reality and community design to develop immersive, evidence-based experiences that change peoples' lives. At the core of our products is our stress, anxiety, and fear extinction (S.A.F.E.) protocol. S.A.F.E. builds a powerful foundation of short-term coping skills and long-term resiliency tools — giving people agency over their own health, and generating value, change, and better clinical outcomes for all stakeholders in the healthcare system.