Scope and Benefits of Virtual Reality in Healthcare
Virtual reality has changed the medical industry offering more benefits for patients and increasing their access to healthcare. Currently, virtual reality is being used to treat all kinds of health-related issues and is offering doctors new tools and possibilities for finding innovative treatments. Let’s take a look at some of the ways doctors are using VR in healthcare.
Virtual Reality and Mental Health
Overcoming mental health issues such as phobias, stress, and anxiety can be tricky since, ultimately, the patient will be required to face their fears or other problems in real life. Fortunately, virtual reality phobia treatment exists to help prepare people to ultimately get through their counseling or therapy sessions by imitating the real-life scenarios triggering their fears. For example, if the patient has agoraphobia, which is a fear of heights, virtual reality can help him or her walk along a high bridge, just like in real life, but with their coach or psychiatrist providing them with guidance along the way.
The same thing with VR anxiety treatment. Not only can it help overcome real-life scenarios that cause you to have inner turmoil, but it also educates patients on how to control their anxiety. This includes both self-help treatments as well as counseling and preventive measures.
One of the most compelling use cases is virtual reality treatment for autism. Since autism is often misunderstood, VR can help those who do not suffer from this disease to understand what it is like to live with it. For those who do have autism, it can help them live a regular life by assisting them to overcome their fears such as public speaking, balloons, classrooms, and animals. Research conducted by Newcastle University has shown positive results in using immersive experiences to help people with autism to treat their anxiety and phobias.
Virtual Reality in Pediatrics
VR pediatrics is all about helping children get through their treatments as quickly and painlessly as possible. This starts with simple procedures, such as taking blood samples. While this is a routine measure, some children could be scared and feel some pain while the blood samples are being taken. In order to alleviate the fear and pain, doctors develop virtual reality solution that immerses the children in a game or other VR experience which releases endorphins and an opioid response, which helps relieve the pain. Also, the virtual reality distracts the child so that the procedure is over before they even know it.
Similar technology is being used in the preprocedural waiting for children who are about to go through surgery. The immersive effect that VR provides helps calm them down and saves time on post-anesthesia care since the children do not require as much sedation procedures.
Virtual Reality for Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
Thanks to virtual reality, undergoing physical therapy does not have to be such a heavy burden. VR can make the entire a little bit fun into the process. For example, people with upper limb injuries can put on a headset and try to complete drawings with the body parts going through treatment. Such virtual reality rehabilitation is much better than doing routine mundane processes that the patient will get tired of quickly. This way, the patient can go through countless hours of rehabilitation and therapy, and the time will fly by. It can also help patients who are finishing up the therapy sessions by assisting them to get readjusted to real-world environments.
Virtual Reality in Surgery
One of the most exciting applications of VR surgery is educating both the doctors and the patients involved. The doctors can use VR to simulate the surgeon room environment and actually go through the surgery in virtual reality to be better prepared for the real thing. It can also be used by medical students to practice and implement what they learned without having to operate on a real person. VR can be used to educate patients about the entire surgery process. Sometimes patients have a difficult time picturing exactly what the doctors will be doing during the surgery. Such a fear of the unknown can add extra stress. If the doctor can help the patient visualize and understand what will be happening, it could calm them down and ease their fears.
Another interesting use of VR in surgery is that it can allow doctors to construct 3D images of the patients’ organs. Since we all have different faces, we also have different vein structures, and our bones are shaped in various ways and many other differences. If the doctors can study the organs that need to be treated in close detail before the surgery, it can increase the chances of success dramatically.
Virtual Reality in Medical Field is Changing Healthcare
As we have seen from the examples above, virtual reality is becoming used more often, and health professionals are finding new ways to employ this technology. The future of virtual reality in healthcare is very bright, given all the benefits that it offers and that we have just started to scratch the surface regarding all of the possibilities. As technology becomes more advanced, we will be able to increase the effectiveness of specific procedures and offer both doctors and patients with enhanced capabilities. Therefore, the potential for VR in healthcare is enormous, and it is limited only to our imagination, creativity, and the way we choose to apply the technology.