Technologies are vastly changing the landscape in which we operate. Innovations in virtual reality are revolutionizing how we interact and perceive our worlds from entertainment to banking to education. VR technologies are making our lives easier and more succinct.
Healthcare is one area that is being significantly transformed by VR. Many factors like the rising use of preventative care, an aging baby boomer population, and the need for evolving medical services have led to VR’s expansion into healthcare. By 2020, healthcare VR is expected to grow by 73%. By some predictions, healthcare VR may reach $2.5 to $3.8 billion.
The growing VR expansion look promising for many forms of care. But how can it help the healthcare industry? Healthcare professionals and patients can benefit from VR through improved diagnosis, care, and recovery which can potentially increase lifespans well-being, and decrease illnesses.
Here are some of the ways in which VR is changing different sectors of healthcare:
Exposure Therapy & Phobias
VR can help a patient both physically and mentally. Currently, VR is being implemented as an effective tool for combating fears and phobias. Exposure therapy— a technique in behavior therapy that exposes a patient to their fear–is one way to treat patient who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) or other anxieties like soldiers. VR helps place patients in the setting which they fear or which caused the stress. The psychologist or doctor might set off a bomb to expose a veteran to the traumas of war to then get them to confront their fear while allowing others to understand the horrors of war.
Similarly, in phobia treatment someone who has a public speaking fear might be immersed in a VR simulation of being on stage or in front of a virtual audience. Or a psychologist might use a simulation of spiders, someone may be immersed in their spider phobia. VR is actually one of the first prominent healthcare applications to successfully treat spider phobia. Thus far, research has shown that exposure therapy with VR can help as effectively as traditional therapies.
Relaxation for Chronic Patients
Just as VR seeks to present a patient’s fear front and center, it can also provide ample relaxation to patients with chronic illnesses. Many patients experience boredom, loneliness, and depression while resting in hospitals. If they experience pain, they likely think about their illness frequently throughout the day. However, VR now allows patients to release stress and reduce pain with a pair of special goggles that helps them escape to different countries, swim with whales, or work in an art studio to help them pass the time and relax. The development was first introduced as a healthcare tool at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. The doctor who introduced the program, Brennan Spiegel, said that not only can it improve hospital stays, but it may even reduce the cost by reducing stress and pain, and therefore, the patient’s duration in the hospital ward.
Robotic surgeries are an important part of virtual technology in the healthcare system. A robotic device performs the operation with ease, while controlled by a human surgeon. Remote telesurgery now allows surgeons to operate on a patient from a remote location. Surgeons only need to feel a physical response while using the device so they know how much pressure to apply. Many advanced hospital facilities are flocking to the VR revolution because it offers simple, time-saving solutions while reducing the risk of complications. Soon, the nature of surgery could change forever and replace direct, hands-on human surgery for good.
Whether you’re a medical student or not, if you’ve ever needed visual cues to understand how surgeries or other in-depth healthcare procedures work, VR can now help you! Virtual reality is on track to revolutionizing the teaching and learning experience. A virtual reality camera was first used at a Royal London hospital to stream a surgery in 2016. Viewers could participate in the operation in real time through the Medical Realities website and a VR in OR app. Seeing how surgeons remove cancerous tissues up and close and personal can help educate the general public on common diseases.
Since it’s challenging to learn the specifics of surgery while peering over a doctor’s shoulder, students, healthcare professionals, relatives, or anyone who’s curious can stream operations globally. Students can be in the OR from the view of their VR goggles.
VR can help save money and time. Rehabilitation is key, especially for people who have experienced time-sensitive strokes or a traumatic brain injuries. MindMotionPro helps patients practice vital rehab therapy practices. Patients can practice regaining lost motor functions like lifting their arms or moving their fingers.Even if patients have trouble following the app, it allows patients the ability to enhance their concentration, motivation, and engagement with visual and auditory feedback. The goal is also to help make the practice fun for patients, especially those who have a harder time regaining muscle movement. The mental exercise can help someone whose experience trauma to their nervous systems to recover faster.
Technology can improve our lives in more ways than one. With the advent of VR in the hospital, we can enhance patient comprehension, strengthen medication compliance, and will play a significant role in teaching, learning, and training. Soon, the strides we can make in technology can drastically improve our long-term care and even improve the lifespans of future generations.