Virtual reality (VR) is the term closely linked to a revolutionary new generation of gaming technology. VR gaming introduced the consumer to computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with via special electronic equipment such as a headset. By stimulating senses such as sight, sound and even smell, the interest and demand of VR technology have expanded to many other industries, most notably the healthcare industry.
VR is helping train medical students, assist surgeons in planning upcoming operations, and also providing unique treatments to patients with a variety of conditions while relieving pain and anxiety during minor procedures.
VR medical training
During medical school, students rarely have a chance to experience real-world surgical operations that they would need to perform precisely when the time arises. VR platforms allow students to fully immerse themselves in a surgical experience which requires quick thinking and analysis and also to view surgical procedures from a first-person perspective. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review VR training improved participants’ overall surgical performance by 230% compared with traditional training methods. Furthermore, VR is helping close the gap on any challenges doctors may come across during complicated procedures by providing 3D visualization of a patient’s body (with the help of MRI scans) which allows them to venture inside a patient’s organ from any desired angle to examine what surgical approach might work best for each individual patient.
VR has been used to successfully treat patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through exposure therapy. The idea is to take a patient back to the memory of their trauma over and over again until their triggers no longer produce anxiety. This method has been found to be more effective than treatments like medication and psychotherapy. Similarly, VR has been shown to manage chronic pain and anxiety for patients undergoing frightening procedures. The immersive effect of VR tricks the most primal parts of the brain into experiencing a different reality which, as a result, relieves the patient and takes focus away from the pain. Additionally, a study by the conversation found that, for patients who were anxious about walking during physical therapy sessions, by slowing down the rate at which patients moved in their virtual environment it naturally caused the patient to speed up their walking. It makes the process a little bit more fun since VR allows patients to use the movements of their therapy exercises as interactions in a VR simulation. VR is set to revolutionize the healthcare industry, as healthcare providers continue to recognize its benefits.