Virtual reality in medicine is nothing new. Perhaps, in the last few years, we have seen the pragmatic evolution of VR in medicine and several other verticals. What began as an innovative movement that redefined gaming industry has now flourished into a bread and butter technology of the present and future. The quality of immersive experience has jumped manifold thanks to the global interest in its widespread application. The VR development is rampant and has picked up the pace as we inch closer to the second decade of the third millennium.
With the ability to insert humans in the virtual words, VR has become a catalyst in redefining norms that were a part of yesterday's trends. Today, VR has matured into a technology that is making waves across medical fraternity and patient communities alike. After foraying deeper into the field of medicine it has caused a paradigm shift in the way the world perceives the medical system. In this article, we will cover the 10 ways virtual reality is improving healthcare.
10 Applications of Virtual Reality in Medicine
Present and future of VR technology in medicine looks promising with the interactive and research-driven approach. The existing growth is expected to multiply in the coming years as VR is set to become mainstream across several verticals. The latest applications of virtual reality in medicine includes -
Combating Memory Loss with Virtual Reality
Lives are displaced by ailments causing memory loss in patients. Since the process of memory formation and its retention is intricate to predict using traditional models, neuroscientists are turning to VR technology for answers. More trials are being conducted with VR and implant technologies to determine what happens when information in the form of signals reach the brain.
Shrinking Training Cost with Virtual Reality
Accurate visualization of medical data can significantly shrink the risk to patients and facilitate 40% faster diagnostics compared to traditional methods. Using virtual reality in medicine will let medical students hone diagnosis, treatment, modeling, and training patterns in a controlled environment. All that while shortening the learning curve. Since real patients are not used for mock surgeries, the surgeon's mistakes do not transpire into life-threatening emergencies. Therefore, it further enhances their confidence in real-time emergencies.
Did you know that virtual reality has enhanced the effectiveness of skill transfer on practical surgery by 26-42% for trainee surgeons and 7-32% for skilled surgeons?
Treating Autism with Virtual Reality
Consultation with a doctor is part of autism therapy. But multiple sessions which the patent has to undergo can be traumatic over a course of time. Therefore, VR technology can limit the number of sessions through social interactions in the virtual world. Handholding patients to relearn life skills without discomfort is easier with smart wearable devices. The stress-free process can bring them back to living an independent life.
Alcoholism Treatment with Virtual Reality
Alcoholism has been a vicious challenge to psychotherapists because behavioral therapy requires patients to feel the fear in a controlled manner to help them reconsider their actions. The dilemma revolves around how to make the treatment cost-efficient, fast, and simple. The ideal approach is to tackle the instigating elements in the outset - ergo, virtual reality.
With VR application the patient and psychotherapist can work together in a virtual setting where the behavior of the patient can be spectated. Further, doctors can wean addicts off their obsession with alcoholic beverages by introducing visual representations of its harmful effects.
Training Medicos using Virtual Reality
In the past, the surgical training involved supervised trial and error approach that was performed on real patients. This strategy presented challenges of its own including medical errors, high cost, the risk to patient, longer training term, and case backlog. In many circumstances, it can induce an inconceivable amount of stress. Therefore, it isn't uncommon to see surgeons wanting a virtual patient on whom the surgical procedures can be practiced without consequences. This is what virtual reality is aiming to achieve - to chisel and polish a surgeon's expertise in a near-realistic 3D environment. To an extent, simulation can replicate investigative environment where surgeons can have a closer look at internal organs and tissues that form the anatomy of actual patients. Apparently, one of the greatest feats of virtual reality is the creation of a safe environment for trainee surgeons to experiment and even fail.
Chronic Pain Treatment with Virtual Reality
The solution for pain relief and stress management is taken care of by virtual reality thanks to a steady rate of innovation evident in recent times. The VR can cease the pain from being processed by the brain. Therefore, this technology has resulted in shorter hospitalization and lower treatment expenses. Patients suffering from pain are distracted by VR applications by drawing their attention towards the VR world to facilitate visual and motion experience while enabling interaction with virtual objects. VR applications for pain management is being enhanced to detect stress levels in patients to offer a non-pharmacological solution.
Psychiatric Health with Virtual Reality
The purpose of using virtual reality is to reduce the dependence on pharmacological approach for mental health. A range of psychiatric conditions can be dealt with virtual reality. Using telemedicine for psychiatric conditions is easier with VR headsets. The trigger for anxiety can be controlled and even eliminated using VR. This technology is playing a major role in the treatment of psychiatric conditions and children's disorder. Being a therapeutic solution for psychosis and social phobia, it is evolving and adapting to the present-day healthcare requirements.
Cancer Screening with Virtual Reality
Each year 2+ million endoscopies are carried out as part of cancer screening. Since this procedure is invasive and expensive, it is inaccessible to the majority of patients. Therefore, virtual endoscopy is turning tides by matching the performance of traditional endoscopy but without adding to the existing complexity. It provides 3D volumetric models of organs that allow surgeons to decide the right approach especially in the case of brain tumors where its removal can be stressful to even experienced surgeons.
Knowledge Enhancement with Virtual Reality
Accomplishing an enhanced level of precision in complex surgeries with the minimally invasive method is a problem that is prevalent in traditional healthcare. The laparoscopic probe can only present 2D images that are inadequate to perform precision surgery. Therefore, robotic surgery is the cornerstone of future healthcare. Since 30% of doctors use iPad in practice, it is imperative to have VR simulations that come with embedded functions to scale up the precision and the depth of review.
Remote Treatment using Virtual Reality
Let us analyze how virtual reality is transforming the healthcare industry with remote treatment. With the confluence of high-speed network and VR, consulting a doctor is a cakewalk where the encounter can happen in a virtual setting without leaving the comfort of one's home. Unlike in the early part of the 21st century, the geographical separation between patients and doctors is an insignificant reason to settle for limited treatment options especially due to a shortage of medical staff with super specialty experience. The reign of virtual reality has proliferated the market to accommodate a range of smart wearable devices. The VR powered gadgets can run diagnoses even before the patient sees a physician and it won't be long before surgical interventions are imitated using VR to close the gap in remote surgery.
Conclusion - Balanced Health with Global Goal and VR is the Agent of Change
In the present and ahead, virtual reality is poised to grow its footprint. It facilitates efficient assessment, training, education, and treatment of complex diseases ever known. It provides a safe ambit for interaction and collaboration between patients and practitioners without warranting pharmacological and invasive treatment methods. All that while aiding medical research in a big way. With trial and error approach out of the way, a smart cure is within arm's reach. Virtual reality is tomorrow's healthcare solution and it is nearly at our fingertips. So, are you ready to ready to leave traditional methods for a smarter choice?
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