Study tests how cancer patients react to virtual reality during treatment

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ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (CNN) - A unique study is underway at a Michigan cancer center.

They're using virtual reality devices to calm patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

The study began in December at the Marie Yeager Cancer Center at Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph.

Patients have been using virtual reality, or VR, to relax while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments

"Once I saw how patients were reacting to this, it really fueled me from start to finish. I knew that I was onto something here," said Brendon Beede, Senior Project Manager.

One patient said she would go to the beach every day before treatments to reduce her anxiety.

On a day when it was too cold to go to the beach, Beede gave her the VR headset and she was able to see Hawaii.

Patients can watch a basketball game from the sidelines or a football game from the 50 yard line.

Doctors say travel content is the most important, since many patients can't go far during their time in treatment.

"You're locked into your location for sometimes five weeks or greater. In chemotherapy regimes, they could be locked into their location for much longer. This really allows patients from a travel perspective to be able to see parts of the world that they haven't had an opportunity to see," said Dr. Barbara Schmidtman, Manager Of Radiation Oncology And Ambulatory Infusion.

The study involves analyzing the blood pressure and baseline anxiety level in patients with and then without the VR.

Researchers hope their study will be published nationwide and impact other cancer centers.