Notwithstanding still being in the early days of adoption, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is now having a transformative influence on healthcare technologies worldwide. Both multimedia technologies – especially VR – are leading to a range of positive impacts on the physical and mental health of patients. In turn, this is improving academic, medical, and scientific professionals to develop their understanding of different health conditions and diseases.
VR and AR smart devices are also now proving to be cheaper and more accessible in treating, healing, and advancing the understanding of illnesses, infirmities, and diseases compared to other medications and technologies. A report from Grand View Research, market analysis and consulting company based in the US, states that the global healthcare business for VR and AR is required to grow to an estimated $5.1 billion by 2025.
Giving highly efficient pain management
VR is highly efficient in pain management, as it acts as a diversion. Utilizing the technology affects the brain’s neural pathways in the same direction as real-life experiences, creating powerful thoughts that help patients forget about, or at least marginalize, the anxiety they are suffering.
Revolutionizing the practice of surgeons
The training of medical professionals is an area where VR can add real value. The first “VR operation” presented at the Royal London Hospital in the UK included the removal of a cancerous tissue employing a VR camera. This allowed medical students to attend the operation ‘live’ instead of trying to catch a sight over a surgeon’s shoulders.
Reading cancer in 3D
Investigators from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (UK) have developed a VR 3D model of cancer to provide a new way of seeing at the disease. VR allows a cancerous tumor specimen, taken from a patient, to be studied in detail and from all aspects – with each cell mapped out. The idea behind the VR 3D model is to support cancer researchers’ knowing of cancer and help find new treatments for the illness.
Aiding rehabilitation from brain injuries
An article in the Frontiers in Neurology journal states that VR has tremendous potential to be used as part of the therapy treatment following a critical brain injury, both at the bedside and during daily life. VR is assisting patients recovering from brain injuries, cope with daily tasks, such as shopping and making assignments. The technology recreates these tasks within virtual surroundings. This allows patients to practice them at developing levels of complexity, which helps them regain a higher level of cognitive capacity. These virtual environments can help doctors recognize areas where patients are still experiencing complications, such as memory loss or the ability to make choices.
Nourishing social abilities for children with autism
VR activity has been proven to help children with autism. As a consequence, the Office of Special Education and Programs in the US Department of Education has declared $2.5 million towards a new plan that aims to use VR to nurture the social skills of learners with autism and other disabilities.
Decreasing symptoms of depression
Twenty-seven percent of cases with clinical depression see clinical progress from utilizing VR as part of their treatment. According to research from University College London (UCL) and ICREA-University of Barcelona, a new kind of VR therapy where depressed patients experience their own soothing words of comfort has been observed to relieve symptoms of depression.
Assisting ex-soldier with PTSD
Bravemind from the University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technologies is being utilized by clinicians to help veterans sustaining from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The VR tool uses virtual exhibition therapy that gradually precedes patients to the things that trigger PTSD.