Companies such as Walmart, UPS, and Farmers Insurance are already embracing virtual reality (VR) as a powerful and cost-effective teaching tool. This technology is making waves in the expanding field of employee training and development, which is a field that is expected to continue growing in the coming years. It is likely that in the coming years, we will see an increase in the number of businesses adopting virtual reality (VR) for medical training simulations as part of their employee teaching efforts.
This is because spending on corporate training will continue to rise, while the price of VR hardware will continue to fall. One sector in particular, the healthcare business, has already established itself as a champion of virtual reality (VR) learning and development, while other sectors and organizations all over the world are rushing to begin embracing these unique training solutions. In the following, we have included a selection of three of our favorite novel applications of virtual reality in the field of medical education.
At the beginning of this year, virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus collaborated with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) to develop a novel virtual reality training simulation for pediatric trauma intended for use by medical students. Students are placed in unusual but potentially life-threatening emergency scenarios during the intense drills. They are then required to make split-second decisions while emergency medical personnel feverishly discuss patient symptoms and distressed parents beg for their child’s life.
Future medical professionals can benefit from participating in these high-stakes virtual scenarios, which are modeled after genuine CHLA patient cases and help them become better prepared for real-world emergency emergencies.
Students entering their first year of medical school at the University of California, San Francisco now have access to a virtual reality anatomy lab as part of the required coursework. This helps bridge the gap between hands-on training with cadavers and studying from textbooks. Students now have the unprecedented ability to visualize and alter the arrangement of human bones, muscles, organs, and nerves in order to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the three-dimensional spatial relationships between these components of the human body.
The university has high hopes that the virtual reality (VR) anatomy lab would improve its students’ comprehension of how the human body is organized and assist in better preparing them for careers in the medical industry.
Dr. Joe Real and the pediatric primary care team he leads at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital have developed a virtual reality (VR) clinic with the goal of teaching medical students how to improve their ability to communicate with families and parents in order to decrease the number of children who refuse to get flu shots.
Remarkably, scientists discovered that students who were taught and given the opportunity to practice these crucial communication skills in virtual reality were able to cut the percentage of real patients who refused vaccinations by ten percent. Following the success of this project, the team has began working on new virtual reality (VR) learning applications, such as one that teaches parents of children with asthma how to correctly deliver inhalers to their children.
Applications of Virtual Reality Technology in Medicine
The last time I checked in on the Virtual Reality field, I was looking at VR initiatives that were producing a positive impact on the world, and I found that there is no shortage of information in this space. I was fascinated by the sheer number of medical research initiatives that were already in progress, and as a result, I performed some research on the topic. The virtual reality and augmented reality market was estimated to be worth USD 568.7 million in 2016, and it is anticipated to develop at a CAGR of 29.1 percent between now and 2025. These are some very large numbers!
The vitality of this rapidly developing market is based on a foundation of ideas that are leading the way towards a future in which technology will become an increasingly integral component of the medical profession, in particular when it comes to applications in the field of rehabilitation.
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic ailment that causes substantial discomfort, fatigue, difficulty with balance, and mental health issues in its patients. In order to make the condition more manageable, sufferers of FM need to engage in frequent physical exercise and muscular stimulation. This prescription is typically difficult to follow to for FM patients, as the discomfort affects sleep, mood, and memory, which is a pretty demotivating cocktail of interference when it comes to a regular exercise regimen. Patients often find it difficult to comply to this prescription.
A recent study concluded that virtual reality (VR) is an effective remedy for this demographic. [Citation needed] The patients were asked to participate in the study with the expectation that the Virtual Reality experience would pique their interest and keep them sufficiently diverted from the pain, both of which are factors that can inhibit their involvement in conventional exercise routines.
Patients who used Virtual Reality interventions saw a 10.61 percent improvement in the time it took to complete an exercise routine, and a 23.58 percent improvement in balance. These are statistically significant impacts that indicate a bright future for VR and FM rehabilitation, and they were observed across three randomized groups.
The potential of virtual restorative environments (VREs) is being investigated at the University of Birmingham by Professor Bob Stone and his Human Interface Technologies Team. VREs are defined as “the recreation of locations and scenes that, by virtue of their natural beauty and peacefulness, may significantly help to reduce the body’s reactivity to stress and restore cognitive or attentional capacities.”
This VR use case, which is now screen-based but could easily transition to immersive headset-based VR, is currently being tested in two separate trials that are both taking place simultaneously. Virtual Wembury is the name that Professor Stone and his team have given to the experience, which was specifically designed to replicate Wembury beach, which is located in Devon, England.
The initial test of this virtual reality environment is designed to assist patients who have recently undergone extensive gastrointestinal surgery. Patients in the VRE are in charge of a catapult and have the ability to sink offshore ships by adopting the appropriate breathing rhythm and breathing into a digital spirometer. This micro-gameplay cycle offers sufficient diversion and additional motivation above and beyond the act of simply breathing.
Intensive care acquired weakness is a condition in which a patient’s muscles become progressively weakened as a result of a prolonged stay in a hospital bed. The second trial combines the VRE with an in-bed cycling device (called the MOTOmed) that is similar to a recumbent bicycle. This device helps patients recover from Intensive Care Acquired Weakness.
The Virtual Reality Environment (VRE) encourages players to invest more time in the game by giving them a more profound feeling of purpose and place. Additionally, the VRE has the advantage of offering metrical analysis of the actions that are carried out by the patient. Patients get the added benefit of competing against a ghost avatar of themselves from the previous session each day, which gives them a feeling of making progress and accomplishing something.
There are a great number of academic research projects revolving around the medical applications of VR; but, until relatively recently, it was much more difficult to locate instances of solutions that were already prepared for the market. Step forward SaeboVR, an activities of daily living (ADL) rehabilitation system built on the basis of virtual reality. The goal of the system is to give patients in rehabilitation access to activities that are meaningful to them, activities that keep them engaged and motivated, and activities that assist them to regain control of their neurological and cognitive abilities.
Saebo made the announcement earlier this month that their SaeboVR solution has been granted official approval by the FDA. The fact that this has been approved by the FDA, which is a major gateway for healthcare solutions moving from the theoretical to the practical, is a very big deal. The example of SaeboVR demonstrates that government agencies are signaling their receptiveness to more solutions that leverage the medium of virtual reality. This is a very exciting development.