Virtual Reality Medical Applications
There are many opportunities for virtual reality technology, especially in the medical industry. The first thing that usually comes to mind when people hear the term medical vr is a surgeon performing surgery in virtual reality. Truth is, virtual reality can be used as a treatment for a vast array of medical conditions.
- Exposure Therapy
- Post-traumatic stress
- Autism and Social Interactions
- Relief for Long-Term Hospital Patients
- Virtual Reality Surgical Training
Exposure therapy is a behavioral therapy technique used to treat people with anxiety disorders. The patient is exposed continuously to their feared object in order to overcome their anxiety or fear. Imagine if you had a fear of flying and you put on a VR headset and suddenly were soaring Above the Clouds. You could take a claustrophobic person and put them inside of a box and they are and let them see that their fear has no bearing. You can imagine the profound effect it would have on the human psyche.
VR Post-traumatic stress
Post-traumatic stress (PTSD) often occurs to people who been through an intense trauma. And it's not just soldiers who experience PTSD about 8 out of every 100 people will have PTSD at some point in their life. At least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and an estimated 5000 veterans die by Suicide each year. Virtual reality can be used to help the soldiers to overcome their PTSD. Virtual reality is used to help War veterans by letting them relive their traumatic events in a safe environment. A patient is put in virtual reality then they're exposed to things such as explosions and gunshots. Being able to trigger a panic from a PTSD suffer and then talking them through it, is exponentially helping in the recovery of thousands of veterans.
Virtual Reality Meditation
Another approach that is often used to treat anxiety is meditation. Virtual reality can help with meditation through its uncanny ability to immerse the user in whatever environment they choose. If you're easily distracted like I am, VR meditation helps you out a lot to keep out all the outside stimuli while your trying to clear your mind. I tried out a game on Steam called guided meditation VR. Basically it's a guided meditation with several different voices to choose from and 12 different environments to relax in. The game places you in an environment and lets you walk around and find a nice comfortable spot (I chose a spot by a water fall). You can set up your music, choose your type of meditation, and kick back and let your mind go blank.
Virtual Reality, Autism and Social Interactions
Medical VR is also helping out young adults with autism. Asperger's in particular can put up some pretty tough social boundaries for a young adult overcome. Difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication are issues an Asperger's patient may experience. Professors at the University of Texas have started a program to help these young adults suffering from autism with the use of medical VR. They put the kids through several stressful social situations like job interviews and blind dates. The data from the study is showing higher activities in the participants brain scans within the areas of the brain that are tied to social interactions.
Relief for Long-Term Hospital Patients
Medical VR is also helping long-term hospital patients to forget the reality that they're currently in. Cedars-Sinai hospital in California have again introducing their long term patients to medical VR as a form of therapy. The patients will watch up to 4 virtual reality experiences last night from 2 to 5 minutes for a maximum of 20 minutes. Researchers are interested in learning weather medical virtual reality will reduce patients pain and anxiety. The study used gear VR headset for the treatment.
Farmoo is multi-player VR app intended to help teen cancer patients get distracted during chemotherapy. Farmoo is a farm simulation that allows patients to explore farmland, plant, water and harvest carrots in a short amount of time, overloads the brain with cheerful and colorful images, decreasing its ability to process pain and lessening the patient’s awareness of pain the programs creator Henry Lo was diagnosed with lymphoma while he was a junior in high school, so he knows the feeling of social isolation these kids can be going through.
he is trying to find new uses for virtual reality (VR) that are not just for games.
VisitU allows patients to get in contact with their loved ones whenever en wherever they want. Using the newest technology, VisitU provides patients in the participating hospitals with virtual glasses. A VisitU app can be downloaded on a smart phone and inserted in the virtual glasses.
Virtual Reality Surgical Training
Surgical training has to be one of the cooler ways that virtual virtual reality is being used in the medical field. The cost of malpractice suits can cause insurance prices to Skyrocket, so the need for well trained doctors has never been stronger.
No longer does a surgeon have to cut up a dead body for practice. The medical students can just put on a virtual reality headset and they're transported into the operating room. The use of virtual reality as a medical training device has shown a decrease in errors and enhanced patient outcomes.
The first live-streamed cancer surgery was taken in the Royal London Hospital. Primarily aimed at educating thousands of medical students where watching the surgery live. Medical students put on VR goggles and joined this surgical training in full Virtual Reality.