Virtual reality represents the massive potential of innovative technology; so significant, in fact, that we have come to rely on virtual reality more than we may even imagine. In recent years, the medical field has been inundated with the positive aspects of virtual reality in our work and our patients’ lives. It may be assumed that, as a medical training organization dedicated to the continued use of human specimens, we have our misgivings about the integration of virtual reality into medicine. Not so. Here, we discuss a few of the areas in which VR is changing lives for the better.
Virtual Reality in the Healthcare Industry
There seems to be a prevalence of chronic pain and other instances in which pain management is paramount these days. In particular, virtual reality has proven beneficial for burn victims. In this instance, VR is used as a form of distraction therapy during wound care and physical therapy sessions. According to reports, patients playing entertaining VR games during these sessions are able to tolerate their treatment exceptionally well thanks to the blocking of pain pathways in the brain.
It is well-understood that stroke and traumatic brain injury patients are under a time-crunch in terms of rehabilitation. The sooner that this begins, the more likely the patient is to regain the functions that were impaired by their injury or event. Innovative use of virtual reality is helping patients discover new ways to move fingers and limbs. Ultimately, the experience with VR leads patients to greater optimism and resiliency, through which the nervous system is better able to recover.
For individuals being treated for anxiety, PTSD, and phobias, virtual reality holds particular value. Using VR, therapists can create triggering scenarios in a controlled environment in which the patient feels comfortable and safe enough to explore coping strategies discussed before the VR experience.
Understandably, the use of virtual reality technology is growing exponentially across all specters of business, including healthcare. While we respect the value of VR in specific clinical situations, the area of surgical training is not one of them. There is no alternative to human specimen when it comes to familiarizing oneself with the physiological response to injury and disease.
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