Virtual Reality Uses in Healthcare and Medicine (Part 3 of 6)
Aug 31, 2016
Virtual Reality: Practical Uses in Healthcare and Medicine
In parts 1 and 2 of our Virtual Reality (VR) series, we defined VR and discussed how it is used in Education and Training. In Part 3, we explore how VR contributes to healthcare interventions and medical training.
Most people have visited the doctor, the ER, or even experienced a hospital stay. Those interactions usually involve an examination by the doctor and other medical staff, prescription medication, surgical or other physical intervention, and discussion with your healthcare provider. Few people have participated in VR as a part of their healthcare regimen. But this is about to change. Providers from all disciplines are developing VR applications for both medical treatments and the training of healthcare providers.
Virtual Reality and Healthcare Interventions
Mental health interventions mesh well with VR. Virtual situations create safe, controlled environments for patients to practice behaviors. Some examples include:
— Exposure therapy for individuals with phobias.
— Bravemind is a program that helps veterans cope with PTSD.
— The DEEP application uses meditation as a treatment for anxiety.
— Social cognition training for young adults with autism.
— Virtual opportunities for the disabled or homebound patient.
Virtual environments also make successful pain management interventions. Two examples are:
— SnowWorld is a virtual world where patients throw snowballs at snowmen, penguins, and wooly mammoths. It was initially developed for burn patients who require painful dressing changes and other treatments.
— Virtual reality applications are used to treat phantom limb pain for amputees. VR also helps them to learn to manage pain outside of the virtual environment.
Rehabilitation and recovery programs use VR to speed recovery. For example:
Many hospitals are using VR to delivery patient education and training. Some of these are:
— Pre-surgery education for patients prior to surgery.
— Quintiles is using VR to recruit patients into clinical trials.
Virtual Reality and Medical Training
Educators use VR to teach students of various medical disciplines. VR provides “hands on” medical training without risk of harming patients. It also helps students feel more comfortable learning medical procedures.
Doctors also use VR to prepare for surgeries and other procedures and to communicate with patients and other staff. These applications include the following:
— SIM-K: Simulates a total knee replacement.
— Surgical Navigation Advanced Platform: Assists surgeons in planning the safety route to removing a tumor.
— Virtual Interactive Presence & Augmented Reality: Helps deliver tele-mentoring during surgery. An experienced surgeon at one location can guide a surgeon in another location.
— Echo Pixel True 3D System delivers more detailed imaging by converting ultrasounds, CTs, and MRIs to 3D images.
In the next 5 years, VR will move into mainstream healthcare. Doctor visits may involve virtual environments to teach skills such as checking blood sugar or proper medication administration. Healthcare providers will use VR to review medical histories and charts. The possibilities are endless. GeekTechBranding offers VR headsets that are ideal for use in any medical clinic or office. Visit our website to learn more. In our next installment, we’ll look VR opportunities in real estate. Stay tuned!