Here are five of the most important ways virtual reality is changing the medical field.
VirtualReality-News has reported that HealthyMind, a French medical company has been exploring and testing the use of virtual reality as an alternative to anesthetics for minor operations. Obviously, the company hasn’t been performing major surgeries without anesthetics. Thus far, patients have undergone smaller procedures such as cut-stitching, burn treatment, or dislocations.
Healthy Mind gives their patients an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive headset with a library of interactive or passive environments to ease their pain and make the experience less intense. The company has received very positive feedback and makes a bold claim that “VR could have twice the analgesic effect of morphine someday.”
HealthyMinds is a great example of Virtual Reality technology helping to make major innovations in the medical field. The Medical VR field is a brand new area in the industry with dozens of fascinating technologies and possibilities being developed in 2018. As VR technology continues to grow and change, its impact on doctors, psychiatrists, and most importantly, patients should improve quality of life and create advancements in the medical field that people couldn’t even imagine.
Here are 6 of those advancements being developed with VR Medical field right now!
Hands-On Training For Health Care Professionals and Medical Students
SimforHealth is another French startup company that specializes in e-healthcare for professionals and medical students. During a CES in Las Vegas, the company showcased an immersive role-playing experience where students assume the role of a doctor in an urgent situation. The exercise forces them to make quick decisions and manage their stress.
It’s an extended preview into the future of medical training that would allow students to practice their craft and gain hands-on experience before ever stepping into an operating room all thanks to VR technology.
SimforHealth has also created “MedicActiv,” which is intended to act as an interactive platform that allows healthcare professionals to access, share clinical cases, and information that should improve training and collaboration amongst doctors. Along with training the next generation of doctors, current professionals in the field would be able to use VR simulations to plan complex surgeries and procedures that require more time.
Does VR Treatment Changed How Patients Deal With Pain and Anxiety?
Much like HealthyMind using VR technology to provide a distraction while their patients undergo minor surgeries, doctors should be able to use the same logic for patients dealing with chronic pain and anxiety. SnowWorld, a VR game being developed at the University of Washington, has been utilized to alleviate pain during physical therapy and other tasks that can be excruciating for some patients.
The game has served as a distraction in various situations like assisting the elderly through invasive procedures, reduced anxiety and pain for cancer patients through their chemotherapy infusions, and even helped burn victims through their routine cleanings and even skin grafts to extremely positive results thus far.
Virtual reality technology can not only offer a distraction to alleviate the pain and make medical procedures less stressful and painful but positive results in these fields will result in the advancement of the VR Medical field. Over the short-term, virtual reality is also creating less dependence on pain medication for these procedures. In the long-term, VR could be used for more complex procedures and become the norm for patients.
Advancements in Mental Disorders Treatment and Therapy
The most interesting concept of Virtual Reality technology in the medical field is the “mind over matter” argument being proven to be true. The positive results of VR being a legitimate distraction from both physical and chronic pain reveal that most of the factors are associated with the mind of the patient. If the technology can be used to alleviate pain, then it’s likely it can be utilized to help those with mental and emotional pain.
According to VR Today Magazine, 25% of people will have some issues with mental health throughout their lifetime. Lucia Valmaggi of King’s Clinical Research Facility is currently working with a cutting-edge VR lab to research and improve treatment for bipolar disorder.
The Institute for Creative Technologies of the University of Southern California is developing several high-production projects that will focus on new treatment for a variety of mental disorders including, PTSD, Disaster Relief Simulation, and Sexual Harassment Prevention. Companies utilizing virtual reality to improve therapy and give people a safe environment to work through their issues proves the versatility of VR technology in the medical field.
Were Doctors Wrong About Patients With Muscle Control and Brain Recovery Issues?
In the past, patients who have suffered significant strokes or spinal cord injuries were thought to be lost causes. Treatment becomes about the quality of life and happiness of the victim. However, VR technology could be breaking new ground as it related to muscle control and even brain recovery after a serious injury.
Through research and testing, doctors have been able to use VR to help patients overcome mobility issues after suffering from a stroke or head injury. More impressively, VR-based simulation and a brain-wave controlled robotic suit gave eight patients, who had suffered from severe spinal cord injuries, partial neurological control over their lower bodies after an extensive 12-month training program.
These small victories are forcing doctors to ask bigger questions. As VR technology develops and becomes more advanced, it’s plausible for the testing to get more impressive results from future patients. NBCNews has reported other studies have proven that VR rehabilitation has led to improvements in hand and arm movements after only four weeks of therapy.
The early concept is building confidence and familiarity in the virtual reality world allows people to become more capable once they come back into the real world. Eventually, doctors could make major breakthroughs that were believed to be impossible.
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