Although Virtual Reality has long been associated with gaming sector, there are many other fields the technology is being used for.
One of the fields making big strides in harnessing the power of VR is healthcare. VR has a great potential to address many areas that current healthcare practices can’t. Psychiatry, Psychology, Rehabilitation, Surgery could all benefit from it. There are already some great examples of VR embarking a positive effect on the lives of both patients and medical personnel. So let’s consider some ways VR is changing the field of healthcare for the better.
Medical training and education
Virtual medical training and education is one of the biggest advantages that professionals have got through the infusion of virtual reality in healthcare industry.
VR creates a safe space in which medical students and professionals can learn how to interact with patients under certain conditions. Using VR they could view details of any part of the body in 360 degrees reconstruction and create scenarios of common surgical procedures.
VR can provide healthcare professionals with a more realistic training that can bridge the gap between medical school and the operating room. It could transport you inside the human body and view areas that otherwise would be impossible to access. Doctors can even get tactile feedback during their VR practice sessions, which would improve their ability to deliver care even more.
Diagnostics and Planning
VR is being used as a powerful diagnostic tool, which helps doctors and physicians to carry out accurate diagnosis. This is done in combination with other methods, such as MRI/CT scans, and eliminates the need for any kind of invasive techniques, making it a pain-free experience for the patient.
As for planning, VR is helping physicians to prepare for surgeries. To determine how best to carry out procedures, surgeons require realistic images of the patients’ anatomical structures such as bones and tissues. Using these images they can make well-placed decisions about what course of action to take.
VR is also an effective tool for various forms of rehabilitation for people with physical disabilities. VR aims to improve motor skills and muscle recovery in a safe and non-invasive way. Using VR technology, physical therapists are able to supplement traditional therapies with ‘VR Therapy’ and translate rehabilitative exercises into real-life situations for patients.
As a wearable technology, VR provides better insights than any other wearable, since it can actually measure the user interaction within a specific, previously-designed environment. The fact that you can control the context and not only the content gives it a major benefit in the rehab space.
Medical VR has been proved efficient to stop the brain from processing pain. It changes the perception of pain in the brain, thus reducing the suffering patients experience. VR provides a distraction, that helps to focus on something other than pain, surrounding by a beautiful, immersive virtual environment.
VR also helps boost the strength of other treatments. For example, meditation helps reduce pain. Doctors believe patients are more likely to meditate if they can do so in a virtual world that’s more peaceful than the one they spend most of their time in, like a hospital room, for example.
VR and Mental health
VR’s unique ability to transport you somewhere else can be used in treating mental health, anxiety disorders and phobias. If you experience an extreme fear of something, you might think the last thing you need is to see it in virtual reality, however, this is one of most established forms of medical VR treatment. Phobias are often treated with something called graded-exposure therapy, where patients are slowly introduced to their fear by a therapist. Virtual reality is perfect for this as it can be adjusted precisely for the needs of each patient, and can be done in the doctor’s office or even at home.
Virtual reality is making a significant impact on the medical field, and these are just a few cases of usage of the technology. Healthcare organizations are increasingly applying VR in treatment, diagnosis and training, trying to make these fields even more effective. Today we see that VR technology is becoming a revolutionary solution to cases where many orthodox treatment methods fail. And this is just the beginning. Who knows how this new field will change medicine in the years to come?