Healthcare is one of the biggest adopters of virtual reality which encompasses surgery simulation, phobia treatment, robotic surgery and skills training.
One of the advantages of this technology is that it allows healthcare professionals to learn new skills as well as refreshing existing ones in a safe environment. Plus it allows this without causing any danger to the patients.
Human simulation software
One example of this is the HumanSim system which enables doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to interact with others in an interactive environment. They engage in training scenarios in which they have to interact with a patient but within a 3D environment only. This is an immersive experience which measures the participant’s emotions via a series of sensors.
Virtual reality diagnostics
Virtual reality is often used as a diagnostic tool in that it enables doctors to arrive at a diagnosis in conjunction with other methods such as MRI scans. This removes the need for invasive procedures or surgery.
Virtual robotic surgery
A popular use of this 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 been 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.
The main feature of this system is force feedback as the surgeon needs to be able to gauge the amount of pressure to use when performing a delicate procedure.
But there is an issue of time delay or latency which is a serious concern as any delay – even a fraction of a second – can feel abnormal to the surgeon and interrupt the procedure. So there needs to be precise force feedback in place to prevent this.
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.
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.
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.
What is augmented reality? This is where computer generated images are superimposed onto a real world object with the aim of enhancing its qualities. Augmented reality is discussed in more detail as a separate section.