How Virtual Reality is changing the Face of Healthcare Industry?


Virtual Reality!  A technology entering various domains at a great speed. From education to entertainment from industries to healthcare, VR Technology has spread its roots to all the fields. And this introduction of Virtual Reality has taken these fields to newer heights. Not just new heights it has even opened new dimensions for these fields.

Medical Sciences is one of these fields which has been benefitted in many ways by imbibing Virtual Reality Technology to improve conventional methods being used in Education of Medicines and Healthcare practices.

In this blog we would see the various applications of Virtual Reality Technology in the field Medical Sciences. It has not just improved the medical practices but has also improved the methods of education of medicines and the processes of therapies given to the patients. One of the biggest advantages of this technology is that it gives the opportunity to healthcare professionals to learn new skills and enhance the existing ones in a safe environment, without posing any danger to the patients.

Below is the brief description of different applications of Virtual Reality in Medical Sciences:

1.      Virtual Endoscopy –

  1. Screening of cancer in patients requires performing video colonoscopy procedures. Some of the complications faced by the patients when they undergo the colonoscopic procedures are:

    1. These procedures are invasive;
    2. Complications like perforation, bleeding etc. are caused in patients;
    3. It is a very costly procedure.

    To overcome these problems researchers investigated the possibility of applying Virtual Reality Technology in the endoscopy procedures. The virtual endoscopy is a newly developed reconstruction technique of sectional images for extended diagnosis and preoperative evaluation. It fuses computed tomography with advanced techniques for rendering 3-Dimensional images to produce views of the organ similar to those obtained during real endoscopy. There are two principle methods used in virtual endoscopy are:

    1. Surface Reconstruction – Surface Rendering Technique
    2. Volume Reconstruction – Volume Rendering Technique

    2.      Virtual Reality Diagnostics and Virtual Robotic Surgery –

    VR diagnostic tool is among the earliest applications of Virtual Reality in Medical Sciences which enables doctors to arrive at a diagnosis in conjunction with other methods like MRI scans.

    The other popular usage of Virtual Reality Technology is in robotic surgery, in which the surgery is performed by means of a robotic device which in turn is controlled by Human surgeon. The most advantageous feature of this system is force feedback which help them gauge the pressure to use during the surgery procedure.

    The disadvantage in these systems is of Time Delay or latency. Delay of even a fraction of second could create some serious concerns and risks during a surgery.

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    3.      Treatments and Therapies –

    The present lifestyle has led to different mental health problems like depression, anxiety, addiction and other similar problems. It has become of one of the most troubling health challenges. Researchers have found that virtual reality technology could provide potentially relieving solutions to some of these disorders. Some of disorders which are treated by VR Systems are Heroin addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias (e.g. fear of heights, fear of flying, over hygienic), phantom pain, stress, and anxiety.

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    4.      Rehabilitation –

    Virtual Reality Technology has an effective application to improve performance and participation of persons receiving rehabilitation services. The rehabilitation VR systems have user centered design which combines customizable, flexible VR software with commercially available devices. These devices combined with developed VR software provides comprehensive, evidence-based rehabilitation training modules for all hospitals, clinics, and community-based settings for all kinds of client populations.

    Rehabilitation Image Source:

    5.      Telemedicine –

    Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services, such as health assessments or consultations by making use of telecommunications and information technology. It allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients in remote locations using telecommunications technology.

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    6.      Tele-mentoring –

    As we all know, there are lot many things about human body which even doctors don’t know yet. Surgeries on top of them pose an all the more complex situation. Many a time’s surgeons face queer situations during a surgery which is beyond the limits of their training and experience. Surgeons from military, developing countries and even remote parts face this in reality all the time. Though they take proper guidance from their mentors before the surgeries but anything unexpected could occur at the time of it. With the use of Virtual and Augmented Reality combination mentors of the surgeons can now virtually join the operation while it’s underway. University of Alabama at Birmingham developed VIPAAR, short for Virtual Interactive Presence and Augmented Reality, uses Google Glass, to help the mentors guide the surgeons practically.

    Tele-mentoringImage Source:

    7.      Tele-Surgery –

    The Virtual Technology is now helping physicians to have VR produced copy of a remote environment including the patient at their physical location. Tele-Surgery is an advanced example of Tele-presence in medicine in which patient and surgeon are at different locations. The best use of this kind of medical facility would be at the time of accidents, as they could be operated at the same place by surgeons of local hospital, especially if the patients are too injured to be transported.

    telesurgeryImage Source:

    8.      Education –

    (Teaching, training, determining level of skill) – Teaching of Anatomy requires an illustrative pattern of studies, and the application of VR in the medical teaching is very potential. The clinical procedures are difficult to master, and medical education has emerged as a popular application of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. A significant step was the creation of VR anatomy textbooks comprising of Visible Human Female and Male by the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine. In future we can expect the development of systems depicting the movements of various organs and systems during normal or diseased states via different VR dynamic models.

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    9.      Human Simulation Software or Virtual Humans –

    Human Simulation System enables doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to interact with other medical personnel and patients in an interactive environment. The other system similar to it is Virtual Humans by MedVR Lab. Virtual Humans enable applications such as virtual guides for medical information outreach, simulated standardized patients for medical training, and personalized coaches for rehabilitation and wellness. The team at MedVR is constantly at work to develop the architecture and set of tools for researchers group and non-programmers to design and build characters for their respective goals.

    In the next blog, know about some more applications of Virtual Reality Technology in the field of Healthcare. It has given a new generation of diagnostic medical imaging techniques that utilize virtual reality concepts for effective visualization of human anatomy.

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