WE/AR Blog How Virtual Reality (VR) in Healthcare Is Changing Medicine
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How Virtual Reality (VR) in Healthcare Is Changing Medicine

By Veronika Petrenko
10 min read
Last updated on 09.12.2022 at 00:11
vr in healthcare

Virtual reality is changing every industry for the better, but VR in healthcare is also transforming people’s lives and improving their health. Watching surgery in virtual reality, helping patients recover better with physical therapy, and assessing the patient’s health more precisely – are only some benefits medical VR has to offer. 

As VR and health are now so connected, we decided to explore what is VR in the medical industry and what VR medical use there is.

What Is Medical VR?

VR in the medical field is all about making the essential processes for finding diseases and treating them better. It involves using virtual reality in education to make the learning process for students more clear and understandable or adapting VR into surgeries or body assessments to use the help of technology when the human eye can be traitorous. 

Medical virtual reality is accepted at the highest levels of science and education. For instance, students in Stanford’s Virtual Health program can learn about congenital heart defects and show details of complex procedures to patients with VR in hospitals.

VR in Healthcare Market 2022

Recent research suggested that the virtual reality healthcare market is going to reach $9.7 billion in the next 5 years. It means extraordinary growth from the current near $3 billion mark. The numbers show that both medical specialists and patients recognize the advantages of virtual reality in medicine, like research and hospital procedures.

As VR technology is still new for every industry, proving how beneficial it became in the past years we can only assume that virtual reality uses in medicine are endless. Virtual realism has more to offer, including better collaboration between specialists that will in return lead to the better discovery and solving of diseases. 

Watching Operations Like You’re a Surgeon

vr in surgery

One of the uses of virtual reality in medicine is VR surgeries. It might sound impossible but nowadays, VR can be used to see 3D operations on hearts, eyes, knee joints etc. There are a lot of companies in the medical industry that practice VR in surgeries providing different ways to improve the process. The results of the application of VR for patients in surgery are extraordinary. For instance, the surgeons managed to separate twins with conjoined brains using VR technology.

Stroke Rehabilitation

You might not know that, but after suffering a stroke between 55% and 75% of patients have to live with motor deficits for the rest of their lives. Scientists came up with a way to treat motor deficits and make stroke rehabilitation with VR games. In an optimal schedule for patients, they can exhibit tasks that help them to rehabilitate their motor senses repeatedly and with the intensity suitable for them.

Addiction Treatment With Simulated VR Situations

There are a lot of theories about what addiction is and how to treat it. However, what seems the most real is that the different problems that the person cannot cope with cause addiction. Virtual reality used in the medical field came with a way to place people with addictions in different situations that make them fill like they have to escape from reality. During VR simulations, people can learn how to cope with their traumas without any help from alcohol or drugs.

VR Helps People With Autism

Have you ever heard about VR care? It is a way to provide constant supervision and help for people that need it. People with autism can have issues with understanding and communicating the emotions of others. First, VR healthcare has to offer help in educating children with autism. Knowing the difficulties that people with autism have with communication between each other and others, virtual reality specialists found a way to place them in situations where they can practice social skills in a safe environment.

Chronic Pain Treatment

The unusual function of virtual medical technology is to calm patients experiencing chronic pain. Putting the VR devices on, a person can see calming nature surroundings and hear the song of birds or the sounds of leaves rustling. Just like the YouTube meditations, but better, as virtual reality used in hospitals helps to immerse in this serene environment and forget about any other sensations.

Treatment of Mental Disorders and Fear

Scientists found another way to apply virtual reality in medicine – it involves treating mental disorders, including depression and anxiety. For instance, that can be virtual reality wellness exercises and exposure or cognitive-behavioural therapy. People can experience situations that fear them and go through them with the guidance of the therapist.

Psychological Therapy

Virtual reality in the healthcare market has reached every possible area, including psychological therapy. Therapy sessions can be hard and exhaustive mentally, especially knowing how much energy you need to use for visualization and communication. People that went through traumas can go through painful memories with the accuracy of virtual reality medical imaging and medical overseeing of the professional. 

The unforeseen benefit of VR health sessions is the ability to replay them which can be helpful both for the therapist and the patient.

Acceleration of Recovery With Physical Therapy

Virtual reality specialists found a way to apply VR to any physical recovery process – from cerebral palsy to ankle strains. After being used to treat diseases with the VR headset and a set of exercises, this use of virtual reality has been found to improve the condition of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Monitoring Visual Impairment

What makes virtual reality and medicine a good pair is that VR can help diagnose the disease before it becomes too late to cure. Scientists came up with a way to create optical devices to improve how people see images. The other way medical virtual reality helps visually impaired people is through sight assessment. A special eye-tracking feature helps virtual reality doctors to see what is right or wrong with patients’ eyes.

Medical VR for Relaxing Patients

vr for pain management

How is virtual reality used in medicine to relax and help patients to go through the anxiety and stress of surgery? Through virtual reality patient experience headsets. There are several proven instances of the use of VR during surgeries that had a positive effect on patients’ health. Especially, the headsets proved to be helpful for younger patients. They can see virtual games with the help of the medical VR app.

Surgical Plan in VR

Virtual reality in medicine and surgery helps doctors to assess patients’ health, and carry out surgeries in collaboration with people around the world, but also plan the process of the surgery. Surgeons can use 3D monitors with images of VR hospital surroundings and make a detailed plan of how the surgery will happen. This virtual reality medical tool helps to make sure that the operations are done smoothly, preventing any unforeseen circumstances.

VR-Controlled Robotic Surgery

vr controlled robotic surgery
Source: knowledgenile.com

Even though it’s not talked about as much as it should be, robotics in surgery has been used for more than a decade. It’s one of the innovative inventions in virtual reality for healthcare that allows human doctors to control a robot that implements surgery. Doing that allows robots to do small, detailed movements that would have been too hard for humans to make.

Quick Access to a Patient’s Electronic Health Records

patient electronic health records
Source: springer.com

Apart from virtual reality applications in healthcare that involve direct use during surgeries or patients’ health assessments, it can also be extremely helpful in organizing electronic records of patients’ health cards. The most recent discovery of virtual reality for patients is the VR medical application HealthVoyager. It allows patients to access their personal profiles with health records and assessment findings from their mobile phones or tablets.

VR Conferences

Virtual reality and healthcare are two spheres that change constantly, which is why virtual reality medicine conferences are here to help us keep up. For instance, there are events that repeatedly happen with immersive 3D tours and introductions to VR games. The most famous one is Cedars-Sinai Virtual Reality Medical Program. Apart from the vMed conference during which leading professionals discuss how can virtual reality be used in medicine, there are also webinars and research papers available.

VR Medical Marketing

Marketing is not the first application of virtual reality in medicine, but it’s not less important. The most showing example you can know is “see your future in VR”. In place of saying how harmful can it be to not listen to your doctor’s advice, the virtual reality doctor can just show it. The patient sees the VR applications in healthcare that show them their future selves after not giving up the addiction or doing insufficient efforts in fighting the disease.

Health Workers Awareness

No matter what VR application in the medical sphere appears, it is meant to be studied by medical workers that will use it on a daily basis. Even though there is no medical virtual reality school, VR is definitely becoming part of medical professionals’ training. If you want to know more about how this VR for medical use training is carried out, you should check Oxford Medical Simulation.

VR Fitness

Virtual reality in the medical industry didn’t go aside from fitness. Regular exercises are a huge part of a healthy lifestyle and virtual reality medical applications make them more effective and fun. If the fitness game is called medical, it doesn’t mean that it will be placed in a virtual reality hospital. For instance, there is a virtual reality fitness game that involves lightsaber swords like in Star Wars. You wouldn’t even notice that you are exercising and not saving the galaxies!

The Future of Medical VR

There are already so many appliances of medicine VR that it is hard to imagine that the future will bring even more. Some experts believe that VR in medicine will be the main way to train specialists. After all, it is detailed, accessible, easy to understand and can convey any message. 

There is a theory that VR will spread out more in neurology and therapy helping patients to rehabilitate and recover. Interestingly, we can soon see virtual reality for doctors as an empathy tool that will help them to better understand patients’ feelings and emotions. One thing is apparent for sure – virtual reality for the medicine industry is becoming only more important and helpful.

Still, there are some disadvantages of virtual reality in medicine. The main one is cost. The virtual reality headset is an expensive thing to purchase for the hospital staff. Also, even though education using VR is much more beneficial, it is also harder to implement and requires time for people to adjust to the new learning curve.

If you want to add virtual reality to the list of services you provide, you can do it yourself or use the help of a virtual reality agency. WE/AR helped many companies to make VR part of their marketing strategy. We can take your project from the stage of brainstorming and setting goals to the development of a VR solution and then analyzing the results of using it. Simply write us a message at hello@wear-studio.com, and one of our specialists will contact you for the consultation.