FundamentalVR is a pioneer in immersive and simulation-based learning for the medical community. They have recently partnered with a haptics company HaptX to create a simulated risk-free environment where surgeons can hone their skills using virtual reality technology. Adding haptics to training simulations allows surgeons and medical professionals to navigate artificial three-dimensional spaces with the same visuals, sensations, and sounds experienced in a real-world medical procedure.
The New Era of Surgical Training
Haptic technology pertains to the use of tactile feedback in recreating the sense of touch in immersive experiences. FundamentalVR has pushed the limits of their surgical training platform, Fundamental Surgery, by making it compatible with the HaptX Gloves.
Virtual reality is on the rise. And now, its applications are becoming suitable for various purposes such as surgical training. Haptic-based VR simulations can make a profound impact on the quality of the training, the skills of the surgeons, as well as the costs of teaching procedures. Unlike traditional practices, immersive surgical training delivers guided lessons without any need for supervision. Surgical residents can practice as many times as they like until they are confident enough to perform the procedure successfully.
These virtual reality solutions can help medical institutions reduce healthcare costs. Schools around the world still use human cadavers to teach young students. This practice can be costly. By using training simulation instead of cadavers, medical institutions can cut costs and provide enough training to residents.
Not to mention, VR training procedures can lessen the risks of medical errors. Through Fundamental Surgery, novice surgeons can hone their skills by learning new procedures or practicing ones that they seldom perform.
The State of Haptic-Enabled Virtual Reality Training Simulations
Launched in August of 2018, Fundamental Surgery is the first of its kind. It’s different from other platforms on the market because it supports any laptop model and virtual reality headset. It’s now also compatible with any haptic device. The company put the SaaS platform’s capabilities on display at the annual gathering of the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). There, they showcased Fundamental Surgery with HaptX gloves, as well as a 3DS haptic arm.
Today, haptic technology in the medical setting usually involves a tool like a glove or a stylus which applies vibrations, forces, and all sorts of motions. These tools give users more tactile experiences in the training simulation. Fundamental Surgery’s Surgical Haptic Intelligence Engine enables it to mimic tactile sensation. They considered a wide range of medical tools and numerous tissue variants to come up with realistic simulations.
Microfluidic technology powers HaptX Gloves, along with 130 sensors that press into the user’s skin. Together, these technologies mimic the sensation of touching a physical object. Meanwhile, its force feedback exoskeleton delivers as much as four pounds of pressure into each finger. This augments the user’s perception of rigidity and shape in the artificial space.
Several medical institutions across the globe are taking advantage of Fundamental Surgery. For example, in the US, the University of California and Mayo Clinic are using such technology to train young surgeons. Other institutions that leverage this include Sana Kliniken AG in Germany and the University College London Hospitals in the United Kingdom. As of now, Fundamental Surgery mainly supports orthopedic surgical fields. That means surgeons can practice procedures like Spinal Pedicle Screw and Total Hip Arthroplasty on the SaaS platform. With the rise of virtual reality in healthcare, we can expect FundamentalVR to add more procedures in the near future.