Virtual Reality Is Creating New Realities for Patient Outcomes In Healthcare - Part I

13 Jul

When most men and women consider Virtual Reality (VR), the image that springs to mind is interactive gambling adventures and awe-inspiring, immersive entertainment.

And, while the media and entertainment market is a critical driver of advancing prolonged fact (xR) technology (which encompasses virtual, augmented and mixed reality), a deeper evaluation makes it obvious these technologies are poised to have a deep effect across an array of industries. 1 such industry is healthcare, in which healthcare professionals are finding an increasing set of software where advanced technologies improve their capacity to improve patient outcomes. These xR technologies are finding a home within the medical industry especially because they are sometimes applied as a non-invasive, engaging means for patient therapy. Whether employed for mental health therapy, for reassuring patients, or as a tool for rehabilitation and rehabilitation, VR technologies are providing an effective, elegant solution for a lot of people needing advanced healthcare.

An intriguing area VR is affecting is the field of mental health treatment. With the continuing rise in the number of individuals who can experience mental health disorders above the course of their life, the demand for safe and scalable treatments as alternatives to traditional treatments and pharmaceuticals is becoming increasingly important. In the media, entertainment and gambling industries, VR is used to produce emotional, psychological and physiological responses; precisely the answers needed in utilizing exposure treatment as a cure for a number of mental health disorders. Commonly utilized to tackle post-traumatic and phobias anxiety disorder (PTSD), exposure therapy is distinguished by the controlled introduction of individuals to the experiences that activate their psychosomatic responses. Appropriately controlled exposure triggers a familiar reaction without challenging the individual enough to cause adverse effects; the individual can then learn how to become more accustomed to the senses and practice cognitive-behavioral techniques that will help them manage hurtful answers. VR is particularly useful in this situation, as locating the appropriate amount of exposure can be challenging in the real world (particularly when an individual's triggers are infrequent ). The use of virtual worlds enables construction of the experiences in a manner much like levels in a game enabling individuals to function through stressful situations comfortably in a controlled atmosphere.

Patient comfort is an increasingly important part of the healthcare procedure. There are millions of patients who deal with chronic and acute pain on a daily basis. Pain control is very challenging to manage in both inpatient and outpatient situations. One of the challenges of handling pain would be that the opioid epidemic that is sweeping through the USA. Fortunately, elongated reality technologies have been put to the test along with showing some promising results in helping patients manage pain. Burn victims, for instance, who must go through the painful procedure for normal bandage changing, often report that they are in less pain when they can refocus on engaging and interactive virtual worlds. Virtual reality can also be effective in treating the especially interesting phenomenon known as phantom limb pain, where an individual's brain experiences pain or discomfort in a limb that's been amputated. Latest procedures for treating phantom limb pain depend on tricking the mind into imagining the limb still exists, like having a mirror box to make the illusion of a symmetrical body. VR is indeed promising with this complication since interactive virtual experiences that feature the most up-to-date in haptics technology just help to solidify the eyebrow and also help reduce patient discomfort.

Additionally, xR technology is becoming more widespread as a tool for enhancing patient comfort by reducing anxiety levels. As an instance, the CHARIOT Program in the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, a part of Stanford's Children's Health Network, is finding that VR and AR technologies are an entertaining approach to describe procedures. Knowing their forthcoming procedures helps kids remain calm before their surgeries and may even function as a distraction during the procedure. In a different case, Surgical Theater, LLC, build 3D models according to an individual's 2D MRI scans. Patients can use these models for elongated reality exploration with a whole 360-degree experience, letting them acquire a better knowledge of, and comfort with, their particular procedure.

VR can also be starting to make a genuine effect in rehabilitation and exercise. Among the principal issues in the fitness business is that of supplying people with fitness programs that they love and that maintain them workout at a constant rate. There are a rising number of companies such as VirZoom, Black Box VR along with others that consider that immersive VR gambling adventures which are paired together with stationary bikes and resistance exercises may provide people with the fun they need to build healthy exercise habits that stick. Try out pedaling a pegasus to get a workout! As significant as exercise is, VR can also be demonstrating a life-changing effect as an assistive technology for people who have physical disabilities; allowing people to learn new skills, such as navigating a wheelchair at a new surrounding, or modified daily activities to establish more liberty. For many patients who have experienced a traumatic injury or stroke and lose some of their motor function, VR has been efficiently used to enhance motor skills and muscle recovery. The Walk Again Project, led by investigators at Duke University, has seen success in being in a position to excite once dormant nerves by incorporating brain-machine interfacing technology, VR plus a robotic exoskeleton. This strategy has helped restore some motor control due to their fully paraplegic patients. Have a look at the video to find the amazing story.

These strong examples of VR bringing tangible improvements to the folks who need it only scratch the surface of the potential these technologies contribute. At a follow-up article I will address how healthcare professionals can use VR for all from learning about and instruction for complicated medical situations, to doing real operations in augmented and virtual reality for robotic surgery.

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