Though AR and VR are still in their infancy days, they have already begun to leave their mark in the healthcare industry. These immersive technologies are bringing about transformational change in the workings of the healthcare sector.
Augmented reality is about the use of cameras, sensors, and displays to pass on the digital information to the real world. It improves the users’ view of the real world by superimposing the information and rendering 3D elements. On the other hand, in virtual reality, the users experience a complete shift in their view via different scenes like a video game or rollercoaster ride film.
Medical professionals are already using AR/VR-enabled devices for cheaper and easily accessible technology to diagnose, treat, as well as cure advanced diagnosis of illnesses and much more.
Looking at the growing popularity and demand of AR/VR in healthcare, experts predict this industry to reach $5.1 billion by the year 2025.
What Are the Benefits of AR/Vr in Healthcare?
Let’s have a look at how AR and VR are making their presence felt in the healthcare sector:
- These technologies provide simulations of the surgery procedures. This leads to enhanced patient engagement with their doctors about the results of the surgeries.
- Immersive technology lends a helping hand in surgeries through additional anatomy information of the patients. It reconstructs the patient’s anatomy through effective image-based tracking and spatial information.
- In dental care, professionals use a 3D IOS scanning system to generate dental abutments. This is especially helpful in planning for dental surgical interventions.
- XR offers simulated needle placements useful for training purposes. It also provides haptic feedback systems in order to simulate the real tissue.
- More research and development is taking place for simulations of health conditions. This helps in precise interventions for different medical scenarios.
- AR/VR supports handheld technology that can be accessed through a hand-held scanner. This is useful in communicating spatial information in a mobile format.
- Computer-aided design (CAD) captures 3D human body measurements and presents modeled body shapes.
- A unique system of measuring the size of the wound is coming up. Thus, the diagnosis becomes more accurate and reliable.
- A combination of AR and VR has produced unimaginable results in healthcare. For example, health professionals use augmented reality to project a virtual brain onto the head of the patient. At the same time, virtual reality helps the patient to have real-time experience with the projection and witness the solutions being applied.
- Hands problems related to keyboard overuse can be addressed by hand motion-based VR games. This type of games is used as a therapy to treat hand-muscle problems.
- AR/VR technology has helped in developing a wheelchair navigation system with the use of smartphones. It scans the locations to assist patients to move in the specific environment comfortably.
How Are AR and VR Changing the Industry for Good?
So, these were a few benefits of AR and VR in healthcare. Let’s go in-depth and look at how exactly they are bringing about a change in this industry for good.
1. Bringing a Change in the Training of Surgeons
Virtual reality has revolutionized how surgeons are being trained by adding real value to the entire process. Medical students can watch the operation live using a VR camera very closely without struggling to catch the glimpse of the process over the senior surgeon’s shoulders. Even surgeons located in different parts of the world can be a part of any important operation. They can move around in graphic avatars and communicate as if they were present in the operating theatre.
2. Fast Healing of Brain Injuries
VR has helped in creating virtual environments for patients recovering from brain injuries. It has made everyday tasks, such as shopping and taking appointments, easier. Such processes help the patients regain both confidence and better cognitive function. Another benefit of such virtual environments is, they help the doctors identify specific areas such as memory loss and decision-making ability of the patients. Thus, proper treatment can be rendered.
3. Learning About Cancer in 3D
A major breakthrough in cancer research and treatment was initiated by the scientists of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. They built a 3D model of cancer supported by VR. This gave the chance to see cancerous tumor cells up close, with details, and from different angles. Aim of developing a 3D model was to study cancer better in order to find new treatments to cure it.
4. Minimizing Symptoms of Depression
Acute depression can be extremely hazardous to patients’ lives. With the use of AR and VR technology, depressive patients can have access to their own soothing words of comfort. Here the patient is projected in an adult avatar, and they are supposed to express compassion and love to a virtual distressed child. Such therapy is useful for reducing symptoms of depression.
5. Teaching Social Skills to Children with Autism
Some very well-renowned institutions of the world working towards the betterment of autism have been making breakthrough inventions through VR. This technology can nurture social skills in students who are on the spectrum. Real-world scenarios created via VR, help children overcome their phobias.
6. Assist Veterans Cope with PTSD
Clinicians from the University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technologies are using the concept of Bravemind to address the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans. The role of the VR tool is to create virtual experiences that slowly expose veterans to PTSD triggering situations. Then they are put in managed stressful situations. This exercise helps to cure the patients of PTSD.
7. Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease
VR-based navigation test can identify early signs of Alzheimer’s disease and diagnose it in patients at the early stages of the disease. This is extremely useful in starting treatment at the initial level and increases the chances of recovery.
8. Treating Phobias
The technology of VR has also been helpful in treating the issue of phobias in people. For instance, phobia of height can be reduced by more than 70% by giving treatment that involves VR activity.
9. Early Identification of Schizophrenia
A ‘mirror game’ was developed in 2017 for early detection of schizophrenia in patients. Here the patients were asked to copy the movements of the physical gestures and facial expressions of the virtual avatar in the game. This technique is much cheaper than neuroimaging, the traditional way to diagnose schizophrenia.
What’s in the Future for AR/VR in Healthcare Industry?
AR and VR are already creating ripples in the healthcare industry. Industry experts predict that by the end of 2019, there would be nearly 70 million AR users in the USA alone. Some serious health-related ailments and diseases are being addressed through immersive technology. Time and again those technologies have proved to be time-savers for patients.
Augmented reality is widely used in healthcare facilities for applications like surgical visualization, vein visualization, and education. Even healthcare professionals are taking an interest in knowing the extended benefits of AR for their patients and their business.
Due to the advancement in the technology of AR/VR, the overall costs have come down. Thus more and more healthcare professionals are using these technologies. Even the patients are responding positively to the significant advances of AR and VR. Innovative products, imagination-based treatment videos and concepts and more are helping patients worldwide to heal faster and effectively.Guest Post