The time where virtual reality was only a mere showpiece for the gaming industry is over. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are gradually finding their way into healthcare practice where they have already proven to be effective in treating a range of conditions and improving patients' health and well-being.
VR for educational purposes
Medical training is taken to a whole other level when a VR headset is introduced in the OR. Instead of leaning over the shoulder of the surgeon to watch a procedure, multiple medical trainees can actually live the experience simultaneously through a live feed. Furthermore, VR enables students and other medical professionals to practice procedures and new technologies in a safe and realistic environment, allowing them to gain immediate feedback and take corrective measures.
Awareness and understanding
Thanks to virtual reality, anybody can experience themselves what it is like to live with conditions such as autism or migraine.
Traumas and phobias
By simulating anxiety triggers the VR technology can help overcome phobias and PTSD's, or even teach children with autism how to cope in certain situations.
Patients with brain injuries can practice everyday physical activities at their own speed to help them regain ease and confidence. In addition, physicians can make use of these virtual tools to evaluate patient improvements.
VR can be used to assess if the exercises are executed correctly to ensure maximal profit in speed, dexterity and confidence. Patients are often also more engaged to perform the exercises in a virtual environment and feel less pain.
Patient treatment and relief
A walk in a park for terminally-ill patients, a distraction during painful procedures or rehabilitation, physical relief for amputees who deal with phantom pains ... Studies have shown that patients experience less pain when they are immersed in a VR setting.
AR: the future of medicine
Augmented reality (AR) differs from VR in that users do not lose touch with reality. As AR works with everyday mobile technology and it puts information in eyesight as fast as possible, it has strong potential for the future. Using interactive information through for example the smartphone will make educating both medical specialists as patients more easy and accurate.
How AR/VR can work for you
With new technology applications emerging all the time, it is worth considering how AR/VR can work for you so you don't get left behind.