Many health care professionals consider virtual reality as first of all technology, not a technique. Such perception of VR is not surprising, because since this term was used for the first time in 1986 by the computer scientist Jaron Lanier, virtual reality has been described as a collection of technological devices: a computer, a head-mounted display, data gloves…
But if we analyze various applications of VR we will notice that focus on technological devices can be changed according to the purpose of the health care provider. So, how exactly virtual reality can be used in medicine and which role does it play in various health care activities?
Medical Education. Teaching most of the medicine disciplines is mainly illustrative. Through visualization of massive volumes of databases in three dimensions with the help of virtual reality application, medical students can much easier perceive information during the learning process.
For instance, basic anatomy or important physiological principles can be learned and understood with the help of screen-based or virtual reality software. Imagine that you can “fly” around, in front of, behind or even inside the particular organ or the anatomy structure! Three-dimensional visualization of the human anatomy can simplify learning process significantly.
Surgical Simulation. We have already discussed why medical simulations are essential for health care . Moreover, we have opened up the new horizons of the 11-dimensional space of simulation applications. We can only add that the science of virtual reality allows to expand and develop surgical skills using computers for training which is vital for surgeons on each stage of the experience.
It is well known that there is no alternative to hands-on practice. But there is a competitive alternative to cadaveric dissection – it is virtual reality.
Virtual Endoscopy. Endoscopy is used to examine a human’s digestive tract. But this process is usually perceived by patients as painful and invasive. Moreover, it is usually quite expensive.
By using the science of virtual reality, a good alternative has been found – virtual endoscopy. It is a new procedure that uses computed tomography with advanced techniques for rendering 3D images to produce views of the organ. With the help of CT or MRI scan, the organ is reconstructed into a 3D model.
Do you have a fear of the endoscopy? With virtual reality techniques, your fears will become a thing of the past!
Virtual Reality in Rehabilitation. Computerized therapies have become popular in clinical psychology. Among them is the use of virtual reality. It is used to simulate the real world and simultaneously gives the full control to the researcher during the analysis.
Within this virtual world, a patient with psychological distress can manage a problematic situation related to his/her disturbance. A huge advantage of virtual reality is that psychologist can monitor all possible responses of a patient during this virtual session. In our next article, we will discuss the potential application of virtual reality in psychological science.
As you have seen, there are four primary medicine spheres where virtual reality can be (and is) successfully applied. And with rapidly developing VR technologies, these four fields are only the beginning.