There is no doubt with the fact that virtual reality holds immense potential to transform our lives for the better. With the gaming industry reaping huge benefits from the world of virtual reality, its impact has spread in other domains as well. One of these domains is healthcare and medicine.
The kind of three-dimensional, immersive experience that virtual reality provides is highly beneficial for medical professionals. In fact, it has been estimated that by 2020, the global market for virtual reality will reach $3.8 billion with no chances of it slowing down.
In addition to the above scenario, there are a number of situations where the implementation of virtual reality can solve a number of major problems in the healthcare industry. Let's take a look at some of these impacts in details.
Along with his team, Dr. Neil Martin, the chair of neurosurgery at the UCLA Medical Center, utilises the benefits of virtual reality to navigate through the brain's structure, examine the tumour etc. from all angles before carrying out a neurosurgery procedure.
According to Dr. Martin, “[The platform] gets you closer to a very real experience, a very real review of the anatomy.”
The modern headsets can produce incredible, life-like simulations that can be studied before surgery for the best possible outcomes. It has been found in clinical trials that these virtual reality simulations can reduce surgery planning time by 40% and increase the accuracy by 10%. Dr. Frandics Chan, who led this trial said, “They become more involved in treatment planning by taking their understanding of the disease and preparing the data sets for the surgeon to visualize.”
Researcher at Purdue University, Bin Chen pointed out, “Virtual reality has a clear advantage there because you can see a true 3-D body, and you can even practice on it because there’s full feedback.”
It can be quite difficult to treat a burn victim owing to the searing pain that s/he feels during the procedure. This is where virtual reality becomes relevant. It provides the right amount of distraction to alleviate this excruciating pain.
Virtual reality games can help overwhelm the pain pathways of the human brain, thus making the treatment procedure easier for doctors.
In addition to that, virtual reality can also be used as a distraction therapy to help relieve chronic pain that has been caused by illness or injury. It induces positive emotion by various methods. For example, swapping the injured area of the body in the virtual environment can produce an illusion and induce positive emotions in the patients. A good virtual reality company can provide the right equipment to make this possible.
Medical Device Testing
With the help of virtual reality, medical professionals can now test the fit and function of artificial medical devices like stents, artificial hips and other implants on organs that have been virtually reproduced. The immense potential of virtual reality provides a more streamlined process of testing devices.
It can also be used to bring up 3D models of an actual organ of a specific patient for practising the procedure of installing a device into his/her body.
Dan Keefe, who runs the UMInn's Interactive Visualization Lab had said, “We hope it can reduce dependency on animal testing.”
“It’s like the equivalent in medicine of the aircraft simulator that pilots could train on”, Dr. M. Narendra Kini, head of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami pointed out, “It could bring the consenting process to life. This technology could really go a long way.”
Education and Training
Certain clinical procedures are quite difficult to master. There are various medical procedures that doctors aren't required to perform often but when they do, these demand extreme precision, accuracy and expertise. Virtual reality can be a huge help in such scenarios by providing a training platform for medical professionals to practise these skills.
The implementation of the latest technology has enabled the field of virtual reality to mimic real scenarios accurately. Therefore, it has the potential to transform how surgeries are taught. In addition to that, it also helps in educating patients about their ailments and the surgical procedures being performed on them.
“By visualizing the situation, it sinks in a more visual way when they have actually experienced the procedure beforehand,” said Mary Spio, CEO of Next Galaxy, “They become more responsible for their own healing and treatment by having a deeper understanding.”
With such amazing benefits, virtual reality is all set to revolutionize healthcare.
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