Virtual reality (VR) can be used for all kinds of things, education, entertainment, and now it also seems that it can be used to teach people about empathy. While it’s easy to sympathize with someone who might be dying, empathizing might be harder unless you have been in a similar situation yourself.

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However the folks at Embodied Labs think that this is where the use of VR comes in, where they put the user into the shoes of a dying patient who has been told that their lung cancer has gotten to the stage where it is essentially incurable, despite everything that’s been done so far. The doctor also gives you a prognosis of 4-6 months left to live.

Of course this isn’t real for the user, but it is a reality that many people face around the world on a daily basis, and it is hoped that by using this VR simulation, nurses, caregivers, and workers at hospices will be able to develop empathy for their patients, which might improve end of life care.

According to Daryl Cady, CEO of Hospice of Southern Maine, “I was skeptical at first that a virtual reality tool could be so realistic. But once I went through it, I realized what a viable method it could be, for not only teaching but also helping people understand end-of-life better.” The video above that shows what the simulation looks like is a bit disturbing, but like we said, this is something that many face on a daily basis, so if it does help us gain more empathy, it’s definitely a good thing.

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