Virtual Reality Might Become Widely Used in Healthcare
When one says the words “virtual reality,” what do you think of? Maybe images of playing your favorite superhero in video games come to your mind, but in recent years, the technology has gone beyond just general entertainment. Indeed, VR is now more advanced, and it has come to the point that it has even invaded the field of health care.
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Since the invention of virtual reality decades ago, advances are now being made to use it for the benefit of treating people who are suffering from certain health disorders and mental and psychological traumas. In short, VR technology is revolutionizing health care in many, some of which include:
1. Treating Addictions
Addiction to substances is a very serious problem in our society, and for any addict, it is the most difficult thing in the world to stop. Even if they have the best intentions and with a therapist helping them, they would still get tempted to use every once in a while. And while they might have a therapist, the help these professionals can give is limited.
With VR, it comes becomes for the patient to slowly but steadily kick off his addiction. For instance, for an alcoholic, VR can reproduce the drinking environment where the patient can still feel and smell alcohol. This kind of treatment can help with the withdrawal issues that addicts feel when they quit a habit cold turkey. VR treatment can also be supplemented with therapy sessions, where in the real world, therapists can provide real-life advice and coping strategies while in the VR world, patients can practice the immersive experience until they are confident enough to do it in real life.
2. Treatment of Phobia
People say that you should face your fear in order to overcome it. VR makes this possible while making sure that you are still in a controlled and safe environment. We all have different fears. Some of us are afraid of heights, while others are scared of being in deep waters. VR can expose a person to the things that they fear most but in a controlled environment, so the person has the option to take his immerse experience at his own pace until the time comes that he is desensitized from his fears. Through VR, they can also learn coping strategies that can help them familiarize themselves with the things they are scared of.
3. PTSD Treatment
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition wherein the survivor of a harrowing and traumatic experience is forced to relive the traumatic experiences from their past over and over again in their minds. These sudden flashbacks and unexpected trigger events lead them to make violent outbursts, possibly hurting themselves and even others. With VR, victims of PTSD can be taught how to manage and handle their triggers in a calm, soothing environment. Their sessions with VR can teach them a lot of things like how they should handle stressful events in the real world.
4. Surgical Training
Virtual reality can also be used to train medical personnel such as surgeons. Instead of having to practice on cadavers, which can have a limited supply, VR can prove to be a much better and more efficient way of helping surgeons improve their skills but still in a realistic way. This way, they can practice enhancing their skills for as long and as much as they want while also receiving instant feedback—all without having to harm anyone. In the long run, they can develop better techniques while taking on fewer risks.
5. Social Training
VR can also be helpful to people with behavioral disorders like autism, who have problems making proper social interactions with the people around them. These people usually undergo treatment, but they are often required to practice their social skills in real-life, which can often be psychologically damaging and discouraging. VR can change this as it can help people with autism navigate common social scenarios like job interviews and parties. These sessions can help them practice their social skills until they are confident enough and have learned how to analyze several vocal and facial expressions. The skills they have learned can then be used in real life without having to undergo any trial and error stage.
6. Management of Pain
People who suffer from extreme levels of pain can also benefit from VR, as with VR, it is often taught that the power of the mind can overcome that of any kind of medication in helping to provide relief from pain. These days, many doctors use VR as a form of therapy for patients with extreme pain issues; with VR, the patients are distracted and their attention is focused on somewhere else so they can forget, even for a while, the pain they are feeling. There are programs like SnowWorld where the patients get to throw snowballs at penguins while listening to soothing music, all in an environment that feels like the real thing. And so far, such programs have achieved better results than drugs like morphine.
Technology has brought about so much convenience to our lives, and with virtual reality, it can also make life for a lot of us better and healthier. With VR, we can address our fears and overcome our disabilities by simply practicing our willpower and honing the discipline of our minds.
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