Before beginning, let us understand what virtual reality is?
Virtual reality is a computer-generated environment with objects that seem real, making the user feel as if they are wrapped up in their surroundings. This environment is seen through a device known as a VR headset or helmet.
VR permits us to engross ourselves in video games as if we are one of the characters, learn how to perform complex surgeries, or improve the quality of sports training to maximise performance.
Medicine, architecture, education, and culture are some of the fields in which this technology is often used nowadays.
From the dissection of a muscle to a guided museum visit, it has helped us to cross boundaries that would otherwise be unimaginable.
The Evolution of Virtual Reality in Healthcare
Virtual reality was not originally intended for healthcare. In 1962, Morton Heilig designed his Sensorama machine. The concept was based more on studying the scenes than on therapeutic work.
Later, the tool was improved to appeal to the space and military industries.It wasn’t until the 1990s that its scope expanded to include health.
Robert Mann introduced the first virtual system in medicine in 1965 to facilitate a new training environment in orthopaedics. Later in the 1980s, a head-mounted display was launched as a wearable device for VR visualisations in medicine.
Over the past few decades, virtual reality has been put into action in healthcare training and education.
Surgery simulators have been extremely useful for physician training, and hospitals have paid huge amounts of money for this specialised equipment.
A surgeon can experience both visual and physical feedback while practising a procedure with the help of visual simulation mixed with force-feedback technology.
Immersive Touch and Medical Realities are two companies that are developing cutting-edge technologies.
For at least 20 years, VR simulators have been used for treating patients with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD), severe pain in burn victims, and fears or phobias. It has been used since 1997 to treat soldiers with PSTD.
Virtual reality in healthcare
Virtual reality and increased reality are providing new choices to realise the most popular outcomes in many areas of treatment or medical aid in healthcare.
Advancements in VR/AR technology are providing several first-of-their-kind strategies in terms of measurement or identification, managing pain, anxiety, or psychological problems that will eventually replace the previous ways of doing things.
Currently, many trending businesses deviate from the direction of digital health and modernization solutions like VR and AR.
AR is the use of displays, cameras, and sensors that overlay digital information onto the real world. VR, on the other hand, creates a wholly new world through video and graphic illustration.
These ideas have been around for a protracted time; however, technological advances in cameras and sensors, as well as software systems, within the past couple of years have sustained a fair amount of VR and AR analysis.
While we are still in the early stages of VR and AR adoption in healthcare, there is a resurgence of devices, which means that medical professionals will occasionally wistfully recall the past and the things that were done previously.
To measure the range of motion, plastic goniometers have usually been used.
It is a V-shaped, double-armed instrument that either measures the angle of an associate degree around a joint within the body or permits an object to be revolved to an exact angular position.
With a VR receiver, live pictures of a joint can be measured, captured, and recorded ceaselessly as the patient moves, measuring the range of motion.
As a result of points being taken in 3-D space, the mixing of live mental imagery and measuring offers additional exactitude, accuracy, and freedom of movement as there are no device constraints.
The treatment of pain may be surprisingly easy or intricately complicated, and it depends on various variables.
In concept, pain management strives to spot the structure or nerves within the body that are generating the pain so that it can give the correct treatment.
VR/AR is an impending alternative theory that might alleviate the use of medication.
One specific hope among the medical community is that VR and AR can reduce the use of opioids in pain management and therefore the ensuing effects of addiction.
By allowing surgeons to carry out various mock surgeries in the virtual space, VR helps eliminate practical skill deficiencies quicker. They can become skilled professionals without using expensive, one-time-use mannequins for training.
If a trainee needs to remove a tumour, the script of the simulation describes where it is located, how it looks, and how it can change after each stage of the operation.
VR has proven to be an effective tool for treating and decreasing pain. Virtual reality can be applied to help women in labour, patients suffering from chronic pain, and more. Virtual reality therapy can reduce or eliminate the need for pharmaceutical therapies.
VR headsets help sick and injured children deal with treatments that help them escape into digital worlds and games. By diverting them from their pain and anxiety, VR reduces the amount of pain that is experienced by patients.
The fitness industry is experiencing a great change in the way exercises are done today. Many industries have combined cardio routines with VR and changed the way we exercise.
VR has also played a vital role in physical therapy, where patients are subjected to exercises that include VR instead of drugs or invasive surgeries.
VR is used as a powerful diagnostic tool that aids doctors and physicians in carrying out an accurate diagnosis.
It is done in combination with other methods like MRI and CT scans and removes the requirement for invasive techniques, making it pain-free for the patient.
Disadvantages of virtual reality in healthcare
There are difficulties in using any new technology, and the adoption of virtual reality in medical education requires the support of faculty members and a proper explanation of its usage so that they can make good use of the technology in educating students and evaluating their level of education and the experience they have gained.
Many experts believe that virtual reality alone isn’t enough to make students able to practise their work on the ground. Therefore, virtual reality should not replace traditional education, and it must be viewed as just a technology.
Everyone is not capable of affording virtual reality, as it does not come cheap.
There are several side effects of using virtual reality, which include headaches, nausea, eyestrain, and running into other people and objects.
Another disadvantage of using a VR headset is that everyone doesn’t feel comfortable wearing it because of its size and weight.
Virtual reality has shown progress and is expected to have a very bright future. It has been amalgamated by the Indian healthcare industry to develop and emerge as a more effective solution for both healthcare experts and patients.