VR in Medicine – How virtual spaces will change the medicine of tomorrow

by Wills Joe
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The virtual reality (VR) phenomenon is called thus because it refers to the technology that allows a user to live out their personal experience utilizing a VR headset. In order to fully immerse the learner in the virtual environment, it may be necessary to employ 3-D goggles with a screen, or special gloves that give sensory input, to assist the user to learn from their experiences.

Many healthcare-related uses for virtual reality are already in place. There are different training opportunities for medical professionals: doctors in training, medical students, and patients. The latter also includes the aforementioned medical marketing, educating the public about the disease and medical conditions, and educating patients about their medical condition or process. As of now, the worldwide market for virtual reality is projected to be worth over $4 billion USD by 2020.

VR spaces for medical education

The current trend in medical training is moving away from learning facts as a means to acquiring techniques to make use of information in order to treat a patient in a specific situation. Problem-oriented learning, communication skills, and VR-based learning are all part of this course.

It’s possible to mimic almost any sort of medical issue using virtual reality, to provide students the opportunity to cope with it as they would in real life. After this, they get feedback and debriefing, so they may correct any errors that they may have made. Since VR equipment are so inexpensive, and since teachers are not required to be present, more students may use VR technology regardless of their financial situation.

VR may be utilized to provide surgeons with an unprecedented level of visualization into the human body’s insides, giving them access to hitherto inaccessible places. First, the study of human anatomy has eliminated the need for dissection of cadavers, which was a requirement for all medical students until now.

The incredible richness and fidelity to reality now achievable in computer graphics have opened up the ability to reproduce virtually any portion of the body in exquisite detail. Furthermore, scenarios based on real-life experiences might be used for teaching.

For instance, various perspectives of surgery may be shot in exquisite resolution, and then the recordings can be used with virtual representations of the body site to allow students to “operate” in VR.

A practitioner in training will greatly benefit from an understanding of how fractures form and are exacerbated in the actual world. Simulation-oriented VR-based training is a very successful technique of helping students acquire laparoscopic surgical skills.

To be honest, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) already declared that hands-on training in invasive monitoring and mechanical breathing is more beneficial than training based on simulated scenarios.

Learning to use sutures in the operating room or orthopedic operations is similar to training that is done in the operating room or in surgeries, since in both cases, VR and tactile and sensory feedback result in safe and reliable practices and are also reasonably priced.

Costs such as the high cost of VR spaces (e.g. the expense of computer monitors, programming, and other equipment), if reasonable, may perhaps be recouped through a higher number of students per training session. Despite the apparent advantages, the findings clearly favor VR, with better understanding as a result.

Medical treatment

In addition to operating on live patients, virtual reality may also be used to practice complicated surgeries, such as neurosurgery, and rehearse them ahead.

In order to optimize safety, this maximizes the fewest possible surprises. In addition to CT, MRI, and ultrasound scans, this research also draws on VR and haptics for data collection. This feels and looks like the genuine patient in the operating room.

Furthermore, in surgical robotics, where a robotic arm is operated by a human surgeon who is sitting at a console, VR is critical. In order to get a view of the region that has to be operated on, the surgeon depends on the camera to be placed within the body. The effect of lack of tactile and sensory input is mitigated somewhat by the use of VR simulators during surgery.

Therapists treating individuals with phobias also found VR quite useful. To help clients who suffer from agoraphobia or acrophobia, the therapist creates a setting that is equivalent to the one they fear and allows the client to confront it little by little. Similarly, post-traumatic stress disorder occurs, and this happens as well (PTSD).

As such, VR can give the benefits of on-site coaching, while progressively exposing the patient to the specific stimuli that would elicit the reaction they are seeking.

At considerably reduced expenses in terms of time, travel, and weariness, along with the convenience and privacy of a therapeutic facility, this service is available. You may also repeat it as many times as necessary, starting with the most challenging.

Treating pain

Virtual reality has also been used to alleviate pain and facilitate rehabilitation for patients who have undergone skin grafts, after receiving burns, or for children undergoing injections.

In-depth virtual reality (Immersive VR) has been discovered to divert and reduce the pain of patients, even when it is contraindicated to employ anesthetic or sedative.

Rehabilitation and physical therapy

Virtual reality in physical therapy enables patients to do their exercises in less time. Since the VR distracts the patient from the discomfort, it simultaneously draws their attention, inspires them, and urges them to finish the exercise.

This means that individuals who have just recovered from a stroke are at danger of further hurting themselves by falling since they are not exercising with caution. This will help them to feel more confident when they are out in the real world.

Addiction recovery

Medical virtual reality can be beneficial in aiding with recovery from substance addiction, as well as in the first stages of treatment and conditioning, with various exposure and response-training strategies implemented with professional guidance. Putting the patient in a safe and comfortable setting may prepare the patient to be less likely to fall victim to more typical triggers when exposed to the real circumstance.

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