The implementation of virtual reality (VR) in healthcare has infinite possibilities.
Virtual reality services are presenting new avenues for healthcare practitioners and medical students to test diagnoses, practice technical skills, and provide enhanced rehabilitation methods for patients.
VR can be widely used across the health care sector and can address a wide range of real-life situations and medical emergencies.
Below, we look at exciting VR applications in four segments of health care.
1. Medical Education
Virtual reality medical training is undeniably one of the most important applications of VR in health care. Incorporating VR in medical education improves the knowledge and skills of medical students, and that is effectively transferrable to their respective medical fields.
Learning and teaching experiences are augmented by VR. VR-based medical training is hyper-realistic, economic, repeatable, and scalable, all without putting patients at risk or raising ethical issues.
The growing number of VR applications enhancing medical education include:
- Virtual anatomical tours
- Peer learning
- VR-based surgery training
- Preclinical training
- Endoscopic procedures
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
As seen by the examples above, VR is an adjunct complementary tool to medical education. VR’s ability to provide immersive haptic feedback has a positive educational impact. This contributes to improvements in the performance and efficiency of medical students.
2. VR in Surgery
Medical procedures are technically evolving at a rapid pace.
VR enables medical practitioners to keep pace with such technological progressions. VR offers great diversity in surgical applications. Medical scenarios achievable through interactive surgical training modules offer appropriate environments for training limited by the physical world.
Virtual reality medical training is particularly useful in surgical fields such as laparoscopic surgery training, neurosurgery, and endoscopic procedures. VR simulators provide fidelity and realism to guarantee that proper handling is learned within recreated stressful conditions.
VR as a surgical training tool demonstrates certain advantages, such as enhancing training safety. Inexperienced trainees can accelerate their operational and procedural skills with no risk to actual patients. A VR simulator eliminates the need for cadavers and animal-simulation models. This reduces ethical issues often present in more conventional training methods.
Moreover, VR ensures that trainees and medical practitioners have access to a greater diversity of training modules. With VR technology present, greater complexities in procedures can be achieved.
3. Patient Care Management
One of the most challenging aspects of the health care sector is patient care. Research has shown that VR-assisted rehabilitation programs lead to more significant improvements in patient recovery.
This is particularly true in patients looking to regain their physical abilities.
When compared to conventional rehab, VR-mediated rehabilitation is revealed to be more advantageous in improving upper limb motor ability in stroke or head injury patients. For such patients, VR can have a positive impact on limiting post-stroke functional impairments. (See also: How Technology is Changing Senior Health Care)
The application of virtual reality medical simulation extends far beyond rehabilitation patients. VR-assisted patient care is clinically proven to be effective in:
- Pain management
- Memory loss patients
- Neurobehavioral conditions like Autism and Asperger’s syndrome
- Mental health therapy
- Sensorimotor rehabilitation
VR is an effective complementary evaluation and treatment tool across a wide range of medical treatments. VR-assisted care provides essential patient data to medical specialists. This enhances patient assessments to better inform treatment decisions.
4. Patient Education
From the patients’ perspective, VR can enhance and reshape patient engagement. VR’s immersive visualization technology means patients are better equipped to learn about preventative medicine and its effects.
This has a wide range of use, from learning about diagnoses and medications to understanding the effects of cigarette smoking or excessive alcohol intake.
VR can also be used as a stress management tool to mitigate anxiety before a procedure that could potentially cause anxiety in a patient. Patients with irrational fears, such as a fear of heights or a fear of spiders, can use VR to slowly treat their specific phobias. When done by a medically trained therapist, VR graded-exposure therapy is an effective treatment in combating phobias.
Innovating Health Care With VR
Virtual reality’s ability to simulate an engaging environment offers several significant benefits to the health care sector. As a medical tool, VR is an economical and scalable technology solution that can be used in a wide variety of treatment, training, and collaboration methods.
The integration of VR technology throughout disciplines of medicine, from education to patient care, will contribute to better medical outcomes. Without a doubt, we can safely assume that integrated VR solutions will soon become the norm in health care.
About The Author:
Judit Chackal is responsible for the marketing, communication, and business development efforts of Reach MENA and its sister company, SENSE-R, the leading MENA-based virtual reality developer for VR branding projects and Industrial Training Simulators. She has over a decade of experience in delivering strategic marketing & business development visions for global clients in the travel, hospitality, events and education sectors. Her passion for content and experiential marketing led her to the field of virtual reality project development.