5 Ways VR Is Revolutionizing Medicine
On the first encounter with VR, people typically begin to visualize all the diverse, countless possibilities the virtual reality tech might command. And within the health care industry, the possibilities are limitless. Fortunately, medical professionals have been planning collaboratively with scientists for over a decade, working up and testing out several ways that VR can be used to train, diagnose, and manage untold conditions. Here are just 5 areas were VR is currently in practice and constantly upgrading as the tech improves as well.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is being treated in soldiers using virtual reality. As cited by a paper from the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies VR had been in use way back in 1997 to treat PTSD at the release of Virtual Vietnam VR by Georgia Tech.
Currently, medical institutions are making VR simulations of war scenes similar to Afghanistan and Iraq to help war veterans who re-experience the trauma from the events in warfare. In the safe and controlled environment of VR they can learn to deal with situations that might be act as a trigger to unsocial and even self-destructive behaviors.
Alleviation of Pain
Pain is incessant experience for burn victims and so medical doctors are on tenterhooks that distraction therapy using VR would help these victims manage the pain. Snow world, a video game from the University of Washington that involves hurling snowballs at emperor penguins or listening to music or comedy, could lighten pain during procedures like physical therapy or wound care by, sort of, deadening the pathways of pain and sensing in the brain. Snow world worked better than morphine for soldiers who were burn victims from RPG, IED explosions, a 2011 study showed.
Exposure therapy is one major way medical practitioners treat phobias. Psychiatrists at the University of Louisville are using virtual reality to help people combat phobias like acrophobia, claustrophobia, etc. One hospital in Hong Kong, Gangnam Severance, used VR to treat social anxiety in a patient. The virtual reality world makes an almost perfect controlled environment; in which patients can boldly confront their phobias and also rehearse routines that will help them cope in the real world, while in an environment that is secluded, safe, and can be thoroughly redesigned and reset to fit the situation.
Virtual reality could offer an alternative medium of practice devoid of risks to actual patients, because usually, preparing fresh surgeons for the real procedure entails the use of corpses (cadavers) and a slow but sure process of helping more experienced surgeons prior to assuming major roles in surgery, and all these could take years and also pose risk to patients as a result of honest mistakes made by student-surgeons.
Since 2002, Stanford University’s endoscopic sinus surgery VR simulation creates 3D dummies for practice utilizing CT scans from patients. This surgery simulator comprises of a hepatic feedback for the trainees. And all these are done without VR headgear however; it serves as a platform for improving of subsequent virtual mock-ups.