Virtual Reality (VR) has come a long way in the last 40 years. Starting off as a way to experience movies in a more immersive way, and now being used in a lot of new videogames and even by NASA! One exciting areas in which VR is being used recently is in the medical field!
Learning to Diagnose in VR
The first way VR is being used in the medical field is to help train medical students on how to diagnose patients. Usually medical students would use high-tech mannequins or real patients in order to simulate how to recognize certain medical conditions. The issue with this method is that it can be expensive and there is a limit to the number of doctors in training that can use them. Kind of like if you wanted to go on a field trip, but only a certain number of students can fit on the bus, so some have to either not go, or wait for next time.
This is where VR scenarios, like the one created by the Oxford Medical Simulation come in. Medical students can ask the virtual patient about their medical history, their symptoms, check their temperature, and even shine a flashlight down their throat using VR. While this is still fairly new, This way of training medical students has been growing in popularity.
Surgery Simulator 3.0
VR isn’t just being limited to medical students though. One of the hardest jobs a doctor can do is perform surgery. Part of this difficulty comes from doing the surgery itself. Another part comes from the fact that there are always new tools and techniques being created to treat patients. Because of this, it can be really hard for surgeons to have first hand experience with all the new ways of helping people.
So to help surgeons be better at their jobs, VR simulations are being developed so surgeons can practice the most cutting edge techniques, or even just use new tools in safe learning environments. When it comes to surgery, practice really does make perfect, and VR is a great tool to practice with.
VR and Vaccines
Have you ever watched a TV show or played a game and you don’t notice someone else coming into the room? That same type of experience is kinda like the next use for VR in medicine. Particularly with how VR is being used to help kids afraid of needles get their COVID-19 vaccinations without worry.
In the past, therapy dogs have been used to help make getting a vaccine easier. But recently, VR has also been used to help give vaccines and other needle base shots to kids in both Brazil and Canada. It involves kids putting on a VR headset and using a controller to interact in a game while a nurse gives them their vaccine/shot. So far it has been found to be super helpful for kids who get nervous about needles, and has made it so they don’t even notice it.
Virtual Reality offers so many possibilities when it comes to helping improve how we teach people new skills or how to make our lives a little easier. The best part is that while VR itself is not a new concept, the technology that has made all of these new developments is still fairly young. So imagine how else VR can be used in the future, and the problems it could possibly help solve.