Who needs anesthesia medications when you can get the surgery done by meditating in a peaceful meadow?
Sounds unrealistic? A team of researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, published a study in which VR technology was utilized to lessen patients’ pain during surgery, according to a report by MIT Technology Review. A group of 34 individuals getting elective hand surgery were divided into two equal groups as part of the research. The VR group received headsets, allowing them to immerse in a range of calming content (guided meditation, peaceful forests, and pleasant meadows). The other group simply depended on traditional anesthetics procedures.
The study’s findings supported that virtual reality can eventually take the role of traditional anesthetic administered before an OT. According to the study, those who enjoyed VR entertainment required much less sedation than those who did not (125.3 milligrams/hour as opposed to an average of 750.6 milligrams/ hour).
Over the years, we have observed the usage of immersive technology for a number of medical applications and how it is transforming healthcare. This covers anything from virtual reality (VR) hospital tours created especially for kids to augmented reality (AR) eyewear to transmit important information to health institutions. We have also started seeing immersive technology employed to replace anesthetic medications, which occasionally have unfavorable side effects.
Virtual reality in healthcare is expanding
The virtual reality (VR) market in healthcare is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 38.7%, from USD 628.0 million in 2022 to USD 6.20 billion by 2029.
Virtual reality is being used more and more to deliver telemedicine around the world, help with pain management, and train medical professionals. Headsets can extend a practitioner’s reach to any location on the earth for $300 to $1,000 per device. One study found that using virtual reality as an additional educational tool can significantly improve doctors’ performance. Let us look at the healthcare verticals that can be substantially transformed by virtual reality.
By combining robots and virtual reality technology, doctors may assist stroke patients anywhere in the world, even in states or nations far apart from one another, with their recovery. At Georgia Institute of Technology, patients receiving neurorehabilitation, including those suffering from a stroke, are given robotic devices called Motus strapped to their arms and legs. Patients and practitioners use virtual reality headsets. The Motus device transmits input to the doctor, who may direct the patient through workouts to help them regain lost movements.
Another component of the Motus device is intended to aid stroke sufferers through virtual reality games. There are roughly 25 different kinds, ranging from straightforward operations like adjusting a thermostat to moving an avatar in a virtual setting. These games make therapy engaging and enjoyable.
The use of VR has hastened patients’ results like an improved range of motion, pain relief, and increased adherence to treatment plans. Patients can view their personalized statistics and track their development in real time.
Many studies have described virtual reality as the cornerstone of medical training. In fact, the American Board of Internal Medicine recommends that medical residents receive training using VR tools before trying real-world patient care. They say VR is a helpful tool for learning invasive hemodynamic monitoring and mechanical ventilation.
There was a medical emergency. When first responders arrive, they have a short window to decide how to triage patients appropriately. This is a virtual reality environment; the first responders are medical students using headsets. It is a method created by the Ohio State University College of Medicine to assist in training medical professionals and emergency personnel.
According to the researchers, VR can grab students’ attention in a way that traditional methods cannot achieve. It is much easier to learn the skills and retain them when they can see the patients in front of them and feel the pulse rather than just visualizing. For example, imagine the difference between going through a power-point presentation on fire safety as compared to the VR applications by PROVEN Reality that will place you in real-life fire situations so you can enhance the skills without the fear of getting injured.
Heart-related diseases are another concern for modern-day healthcare professionals, where a timely diagnosis can save hundreds of lives. PROVEN Reality Auscultation VR App can help medical students learn to relate sounds to illnesses in a realistic setting, accelerating the learning process and making faster decisions. The demo app is available on Oculus and HTC stores, where medical students can access real-time, high-quality training in a fully immersive setting.
Cleveland Clinic created a mechanism for neurosurgeons to hone surgical methods using VR earlier this year. MRI brain scans of a patient due for surgery are submitted to a company, which converts them into 3D graphics and uploads them to a VR platform. The surgeon can prepare for the operation by planning and practicing before the procedure. Virtual reality further benefits surgeons in the operating room beyond planning and practicing.
VR in healthcare: The bottom line
Virtual reality has myriad medical uses, and researchers are always coming up with new technologies to improve healthcare and give patients more efficient treatments. It is not far from when virtual reality will be the standard part of most physicians’ arsenal.