You’ve probably heard about virtual reality (VR) and maybe even seen it. But have you ever thought about how this technology could change medical care? The medical field is already adopting VR for training, patient rehabilitation, and even surgery.
Virtual Reality and Medical Training
We’ve all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect.” It’s no different in medicine. For example, a new surgeon will have to practice making small incisions before he or she is allowed to perform a surgery on a real patient. The stakes are too high to allow him or her to practice on an actual person, so surgeons often practice on cadavers.
However, there are a few problems with practicing on cadavers. For one thing, they can be hard to come by and are very expensive. Plus, it’s difficult for students to get feedback from an inanimate object like a cadaver. There’s no way of knowing if they’re doing something wrong while they’re performing surgery.
Enter virtual reality training simulations. These simulations are designed to look just like the real thing and usually feature lifelike organs that respond to touch the same way human organs would. Because these simulations run virtually, they don’t require any physical objects — just goggles and gloves that track the user’s
Virtual reality is poised to become a powerful tool for medical training and education. Here’s what it can do for healthcare professionals, and where it falls short.
Virtual reality has a been a hot topic of late, with the likes of Facebook and Google throwing their weight behind the concept. As this new technology becomes more widespread, its use in the medical field will continue to grow, too. Here is a look at how VR will change medical training and education, as well as where it may fall short.
What Virtual Reality Can Do for Healthcare Professionals:
We are all familiar with the concept of virtual reality (VR) entertainment devices like Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR that allow users to immerse themselves in a 360-degree 3D world that is computer-generated. These devices are being used to train surgeons, clinicians and other healthcare professionals in ways that are providing benefits beyond what traditional training methods can offer. The following are just a few of the ways that augmented reality is changing medical education:
Developing surgical skills
One of the most promising applications for virtual reality is bringing surgical skills training into the 21st century. “Surgical simulators have been available for decades,” said Dr. Daniel Rosenbaum, assistant professor of surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine
“Virtual reality has come a long way since the early days of Nintendo and Sega, but it is still in its infancy. The technology has brought us some incredible applications that have changed our lives forever, from emergency training simulations to fully immersive games. In the future, virtual reality will continue to evolve as an important tool for learning and communication.”
“The ability to use your hands and feet to interact with objects in a virtual environment is an amazing new development in VR technology. It allows you to reach out and touch things, or manipulate objects in a way that was previously impossible with standard video game controllers.”
“This part of the article will focus on how this technology is changing medical training. What are some examples of how it can be used? How can doctors train using VR? And what are some of the benefits of using it?”
Virtual Reality has been around for decades, but the recent wave of VR is something to really get excited about. With the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive releasing in 2016, and Sony’s Playstation VR coming out this year, we’re seeing a wave of mainstream interest in VR.
The medical field is no exception to this trend, with a wide variety of applications from virtual surgeries to treating PTSD. There are already a variety of companies who have created medical training simulations, which can be helpful for surgeons and doctors who need to practice surgical procedures before operating on patients.
The simulation can be incredibly lifelike, so much so that it can be hard for trainees to distinguish between the real world and their virtual environment. The simulation provides feedback for trainees as they complete different steps, so that they can learn from their mistakes before going into surgery.
Medical training can also be used outside of surgery scenarios. For example, a patient could use simulation to practice walking again after an accident or injury. This type of therapy could help patients recover faster by allowing them to practice more frequently without having physical therapy every day.
Virtual Reality (VR) is quickly becoming an integral part of the medical field. From better training for surgeons to simulating what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s, VR is beginning to change the world one simulation at a time.
The Stanford School of Medicine has announced that it will begin teaching anatomy using VR simulations. The school will use a program called Osso VR, which allows students to learn the correct way to fracture bones, as well as how to set them and make incisions in the proper place. The advantage over traditional learning methods is that students are allowed to make mistakes without hurting anyone, while also getting instant feedback on their performance through analytics.
The medical field is not alone in seeing VR as a useful tool. In another example of how VR is changing the world, NASA introduced astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) to a new module called Project Sidekick. This module uses Google Glass and an Xbox Kinect 2.0 camera to allow astronauts to talk to mission control in Houston and even receive augmented reality instructions from experts on Earth.
In yet another example of technology making life easier for people, researchers at Stanford University are working on helping people with Alzheimer’s disease by creating a virtual environment that simulates having Alzheimer’s.
Besides medical education and treatment
The Emerging Technologies Case Studies (ETCS) website highlights how technologies such as RFID, GPS and more are being used in the healthcare industry and beyond. ETCS is brought to you by an alliance of organizations formed to accelerate the development and application of RFID in the healthcare supply chain.
“The goal of the Emerging Technologies Case Studies site is to help you understand how technologies such as RFID, GPS, RTLS, bar coding, sensor networks and other emerging technologies are being used in a variety of applications and industries. We hope you will use the information on this site to inform your own business decisions and help build a business case for your company’s specific needs.”
If you have a VR headset, there is a good chance that you have used it for gaming. While VR gaming may be the most popular use case at the moment, VR has many applications beyond entertainment. Virtual reality is being used in all types of industries and fields, offering new ways to train professionals and improve business processes.
In this article, we are going to take a look at how virtual reality is being used in the healthcare industry to train medical students and improve the efficiency of hospitals.