VR in Healthcare: How “Gaming” Technology Saves Lives

The market for VR headsets is continuously growing, but the technology is not applied in the entertainment and gaming industries only. One of the most crucial virtual reality implementations take place in the healthcare industry.

Virtual reality (VR) is now one of the most widespread technologies in the gaming industry. A lot of VR applications are being created for PCs, consoles, and smartphones providing users with a unique opportunity to experience VR games. The market for VR headsets is continuously growing, but the technology is not applied in the entertainment and gaming industries only. One of the most crucial virtual reality implementations take place in the healthcare industry.

The technology possesses powerful visualization capabilities like never before. It allows creating immersive lifelike scenarios that the human brain cannot tell from reality as well as building interactive 3D models of human bodies and internal organs. In this article we will see how VR is implemented in healthcare.

How VR is used n healthcare
The coverage of VR implementation in healthcare is wide, and we can observe which areas benefit from the technology most of all. Let’s take a look at the most expanding ones.

VR’s graphics capabilities allow surgeons to use organ models and plan surgical interventions while preparing for complex operations. Doctors can remove tumors and perform sophisticated brain and spinal surgeries on virtual bodies so that when doctors get to real patients, they feel like they have done that before.

Education and training
Training doctors and nurses to carry out their routine is time-consuming and expensive – there is often a busy and valuable professional involved. VR is here to help with its repeatable realistic scenarios and affordable equipment. Surgeons can stream operations to interested people, and it is even better than performing a surgery for only a few students who stand and watch. Now those who want to master surgical skills can virtually participate in real operations over and over again, having a more involving experience than watching it live or on records. There is also a possibility for training future doctors in virtual reality. Simulated surgeries and other medical interventions on virtual patients allow students to improve their skills and avoid future failures.

Mental disorders treatment
Plenty of people suffer from fears and phobias such as a fear of heights, claustrophobia, arachnophobia, – the list is pretty large. The treatment often includes a slow and careful introduction to the patient’s fear. With the help of VR, such people can combat their phobias in a new way – they can interact with them in a virtual environment. This approach is safer and can be performed in a comfortable place, such as a patient’s home or doctor’s office. People who receive such treatment experience the graded exposure therapy. In a virtual world the exposure level can be adjusted, which cannot be done in a real world. As the result, patients recover without much stress.

Another widespread problem is PTSD – a common syndrome experienced by military veterans that forces them to outlive stressful feelings they felt during a war again and again. Patients report that these feelings interrupt their living, bring nightmares and a constant feeling of guilt and loneliness. Where traditional therapy cannot manage PTSD, VR comes to rescue.
Veterans can enter a virtual war zone that simulates and repeats stressful events. A therapist can manipulate this virtual surrounding, guiding a veteran through his story. Outliving the event that caused PTSD helps veterans to feel relieved. Patients have a chance to steadily get rid of the gruesome feelings and memories and start a normal life.

Pain relief
Phantom pain is a perception of pain that patients have in amputated limbs or inner organs. More than two-thirds of amputees experience phantom pain, and some people report that this feeling is sometimes unbearable and interferes with their everyday activities and sleep. The solution was found at the Chalmers University of Technology. he researchers placed electrodes on the rest of the amputated arm, and the amputee was then able to see and manipulate his arm in a virtual environment. The results were impressive – the simulation helped the patient feel less pain. When VR cannot help eliminate pain, it can at least help patients to somehow deal with it. Dentists, for instance, offer VR headsets to patients to comfort and distract them from the doctor’s interventions.

Trauma recovery
Stroke victims and people who suffered a brain injury are restricted in their abilities because of the neural system damage. They have lost some basic skills and are no longer able to perform everyday tasks, such as brushing their teeth or holding a spoon. The rehabilitation includes practicing limb movements in order to help a nervous system recover from a trauma. With the help of a VR application patients virtually practice moving their hand or fingers, and even if they fail to perform a full movement, this training still enhances the patient’s attention to it. VR helps to engage patients in a more game-like rehabilitation and motivates them to train more often.

The application of virtual reality in medicine is not limited to the examples described above. Healthcare is one of the greatest adopters of VR, and as the technology evolves, the range of its usage expands, which requires sound expertise from VR apps developers. At Softvelopers, we have expertise in building advanced medical VR applications for various industries. If you are ready to bring VR experience to your medical organization, please contact us to discuss your case.

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