When we hear the word Virtual Reality(VR), the first thought that strikes our mind is generally associated with games. However, VR is not entertainment, designing, and tourism. It has a wider scope in the health sector too. Virtual Reality helps in medical training and care in some exciting manner. This blog post will take you to a tour of how VR is transforming the health sector.
What is Virtual Reality?
In a nutshell, Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that simulates a physical presence. We use Computer-generated environments and software to design and simulate objects. For, instance, their physical presence in a specific environment designed to feel absolutely real. This generates an immersive experience and manipulates the environment as if it were the real world. VR should not a simple 3-D environment where we just feel the 3 dimensions. It gives you a real feel as if you are literally present thus becoming the part of the Virtual World.
In order to provide immersive user experience, Jonathan Steuer, a Ph.D. in communication theory and research, proposed two components.
1. Depth of Information: This refers to the quality and amount of data the user is fed by the virtual environment itself.
2. The Breadth of Information: This refers to how many senses are being stimulated by the virtual environment.
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Areas where Virtual Reality is used in the Health Sector
Virtual Reality is shaping and revolutionizing the healthcare sector in a plethora of ways. This result in more skilled physicians, innovative treatment options and improved patient care. Few of them are mentioned below which will provide you an overview to increase your knowledge. Also, it will guide you in the field of research towards medical advancements using VR.
1. Virtual Reality(VR) in Surgical Training
Virtual reality provides great benefits and high-quality learning methodology to solve real-world problems. In the conventional approach, surgeons have to spend a lot of years learning and training in universities. Virtual reality has the potential to teach and implement the real scenario without real experimental specimens.
The surgeons can use simulation to greatly enhance the training process. According to Danny P. Goel who is the MD, the CEO, and the co-founder of Precision OS, (a VR orthopedic surgical education and preoperative planning software.) says,
“There is a real disconnect between combining cognitive and technical skills in current models of simulation”
Moreover, Precision OS has partnered with several medical institutions. For instance, the Mayo Clinic, The Boston Shoulder Institute and The University of British Columbia. They have created three types of simulation platforms to help surgeon’s learning,
1. The Arthroplasty Platform: This platform assists surgeons to become familiar with patient anatomy, identify precision metrics so that they can perform virtual surgery, without the use of a live patient.
2. Patient-Specific Anatomy Platform: It allows the surgeons to perform surgery with data before the procedure which aid with a specific upcoming procedure which will be involved in the surgery.
3. Trauma Platform: This platform focus on fracture configuration, screw trajectory, and plate position with regard to trauma surgery.
However, Physicians, will use the ordinary approach such as 2D or 2.5D views until they learn how to proficiently use the technology,” says Mike Harper, executive vice president and CMO of zSpace, a technology firm that amalgamates virtual and Augmented Reality.
2. VR in Pain or Emotion Management
VR assists in pain management therapy as well and can directly be used with patients. In a post written by Technopedia, they said that their partner“ Limbix, has proven that VR is a powerful tool for immersion therapy and growth mindset training. Furthermore, they added that VR creates an actual experience that is generally observed in stress and they assist the patients by teaching them how to cope up in those situations. Thus, VR can help patients by teaching them how to manage their reactions, from fear of heights to substance abuse to social anxiety.
3. VR helps in Patient Communication
VR is not only limited in helping physicians or surgeons but also helping health professionals to develop their communication skills. How? There is a company named as Friends With Holograms, which provides VR technology for training.
This company has partnered with Accenture to forge a program to teach soft skills using VR. In this program, the doctor sits in the room with a patient and choose questions to ask and conversation paths to pursue,” says the CEO of “Friends With Holograms”. This way, they can practice informing a patient of a terminal illness and how to deal with a variety of reactions. In addition to this, they can even practice having conversations with parents related to different problematic situations.
4. VR helps in Increasing the Quality of Life for Seniors
Age is the factor that hinders the mobility of people and senior citizens face most of the consequences of this because they can’t travel the place of their choice. Virtual reality can solve this problem, as it can transport them to the destination of their choice in no time.
Several studies have shown that VR brings happiness and wellness. One such company that is promoting this kind of immersive experience is MyndVR. It uses VR to provide quality experiences. Their focus is on creating content that takes seniors out of the four walls of their existing place and engages them in a way that keeps their minds active and full of curiosity. The research conducted on MyndVR’s customers showed a 25% positive behavior change in patients; another study showed a 50% positive reaction to VR in a memory care setting.
What Comes Next From Here?
Clearly, VR is the future and will definitely change the things we see and feel today. Ebbe Altberg CEO of Linden Lab,(which develops platforms for virtual experiences) believes that while VR has made great strides in mental and physical health, we’re just now beginning to even realize its full potential.
As the technology will become more advanced, we will see more and more patients turning to virtual for connection, these are places where they can connect with others that may share their conditions, and where they can enjoy a greater degree of mobility. Hence, virtual worlds will soon become an essential part of our day to day grind and it will act as a bridge between healthcare providers and the patients.