Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in Healthcare

by Moisaka Solutions, October 26, 2017

Healthcare is one of the biggest adopters of virtual reality after gaming industry in last 2-3 years and it encompasses surgery simulation, phobia treatment, robotic surgery, medical education, and medical training.

But before we get into the details of Virtual Reality in Healthcare, for those who are just starting up with Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality we need to understand what VR, AR and MR is all about.

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer technology that uses virtual reality headsets, sometimes in combination with physical spaces or multi-projected environments, to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment.

In simpler words, Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

In simpler words, AR is created when computer generated images are superimposed onto a real-world object with the aim of enhancing its qualities and understanding.

How Virtual Reality can be applied in Healthcare?

One of the many advantage of Virtual Reality technology is that it allows healthcare professionals to learn new skills as well as refresh existing ones in a safe and controlled computer generated (CG) environment. It allows learning without causing any danger to the patients or physicians. Some of the Virtual Reality Modules in Healthcare are as follows:

1. Human Simulation Software

This is one of the best example how VR can help healthcare professionals to interact with each other in real time. HumanSim system which enables doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to interact with others in an interactive controlled environment. They can engage in a training scenario in which they can interact with a patient or healthcare professional but within a 3D environment only. This is an immersive experience which measures the participant’s emotions via a series of sensors.

2. Virtual Reality Diagnostics

Virtual reality is also used as a diagnostic tool in which it allows doctors to arrive at a diagnosis in conjunction with other methods such as MRI scans. This removes the need for invasive procedures or surgery. We can just imagine the heap of benefits through this technique for patients, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies.

virtual reality

 3. Virtual Robotic Surgery

A popular use of this Virtual Reality technology is in robotic surgery. This is where surgery is performed by means of a robotic device – controlled by a human surgeon, which reduces time and risk of complications. Virtual reality has also been used for training purposes and, in the field of remote telesurgery in which surgery is performed by the surgeon at a separate location to the patient. If a doctor wants to learn about a complicated surgery but doesn’t have enough resources or money to travel or access the material, Virtual Robotic Surgery can be of great use. Robotic surgery and other issues relating to virtual reality and medicine can be found in the virtual reality and healthcare section. This section contains a list of individual articles which discuss virtual reality in surgery etc.

4. Virtual Reality in Pain Management

There has been lot of studies which found that that virtual reality (VR) can help relieve pain and even chronic ones. The parts of the brain that are linked to our pain – the somatosensory cortex and the insula – are less active when a patient is immersed in virtual reality. In few instances, it can even help people tolerate medical procedures that are usually very painful.

Few other studies have even shown that amputees can benefit from VR therapy. Amputees often feel severe pain in their missing limb, which can be hard to treat with conventional methods, and often doesn’t respond well to strong painkillers like codeine and morphine. However, a technique called “virtual mirror therapy”, which involves putting on a VR headset and controlling a virtual version of the absent limb seems to help some patients cope better with this “phantom pain”.

 5. More Examples of Virtual Reality and Healthcare

This section looks at the various uses of VR in healthcare and is arranged as a series of the following articles:

Advantages of virtual reality in medicine

  • Virtual reality in dentistry
  • Virtual reality in medicine
  • Virtual reality in nursing
  • Virtual reality in surgery
  • Surgery simulation
  • Virtual reality therapies
  • Virtual reality in phobia treatment
  • Virtual reality treatment for PTSD
  • Virtual reality treatment for autism
  • Virtual reality health issues
  • Virtual reality for the disabled

Some of these articles contain further sub-articles. For example, the virtual reality in phobia treatment article links to a set of articles about individual phobias, e.g. arachnophobia, and how they are treated with this technology.

Most of us think of virtual reality in connection with surgery but this technology is used in non-surgical ways, for example as a diagnostic tool. It is used alongside other medical tests such as X-rays, scans and blood tests to help determine the cause of a particular medical condition. This often removes the need for further investigation, such as surgery, which is both time consuming and risky.

Now let’s take a small diversion to Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is another technology used in healthcare. If we return to the surgery example; with this technology, computer generated images are projected onto the part of the body to be treated or are combined with scanned real-time images.

Let us know what do you think about these technologies and how these can help your organization to get into next level of immersive reality. At Moisaka Solutions, we have tried and implemented Virtual Reality for Healthcare and Architectural projects. If you would like to know more about the implementation, please drop an email to business@moisaka.com and one of our specialist will get in touch with you in 24 hours.

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