What is the benefits of virtual reality in healthcare?
- What is virtual reality (VR)? What is the benefits of virtual reality in healthcare?. What is its clinical importance? We should know this.
- The past two decades has witnessed the emergence of virtual reality (VR) as a major tool for investigation, assessment, and management of medical and psychiatric disorders.
e-Health interventions are becoming increasingly used in public health, with virtual reality (VR), being one of the most exciting recent developments.
- Virtual reality (VR) refers to the computer-generated simulation, in which a person can interact within an artificial three-dimensional environment using special electronic devices, such as special goggles with a screen or gloves fitted with sensors and a head-mounted display.
Benefits of virtual reality in healthcare
- Though the term “Virtual realty” (VR) was coined by Jaron Lanier in 1987, the development of VR can be traced to 1957, when Morton Heilig, a cinematographer, conceptualized that, audiences would be more effectively drawn into the stories if all their senses are stimulated.
- The technology was mainly used for training military personnel, pilots, and astronauts; but largely remained out of the public eye.
Application of Virtual Reality in Heath care
- There are two different focuses of VR in healthcare: VR as a simulation tool and VR as an interaction tool.
- Physicians and surgeons mainly use VR as a simulation tool, while in mental health, the main focus is on interaction tool.
- The introduction of virtual reality in medicine is a very important and useful step.
- In the field of healthcare, Virtual reality techniques has wide applications ranging from diagnosis, treatment, counseling and rehabilitation, to designing of hospitals.
- It can be used for education and instruction in medical, dental, nursing, and paramedical schools.
- Students can acquire knowledge of human body in a virtual environment. VR has also been used to teach the skills of recording a12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG).
- Students can interact with and examine a virtual patient and learn skills which they can apply in the real world.
- Students can perform procedures and even surgery on a virtual patient in a safe and controlled environment.
- They can make mistakes and learn from them, without any risk to the patients. Skill acquisition would therefore be faster and without any risk to patients. Similarly dental students also can learn their skills on a virtual patient.
- Virtual reality (VR) could also play a role in pain management and help people tolerate medical procedures. It could be especially useful for patients for whom anesthesia and sedation could be dangerous.
- VR could be useful for patients experiencing chronic pain as well as for dealing with pain post-surgery, for treating the pain associated with the daily cleaning and bandaging of severe burns and for making injections less upsetting for children.
Stroke or Head Injury
- Patients recovering from strokes or head injuries may also benefit from virtual reality in the medical field.
- VR environments can help patients overcome challenges related to balance and mobility. After practicing in virtual environments, patients may be more confident when moving around in the real world.
- There are promising results related to using VR in therapy for improving arm and hand mobility for patients with cerebral palsy and stroke patients.
VIRTUAL REALTY AND MENTAL HEALTH
role of virtual realty in mental health:
- Virtual Reality Might Be the Next Big Thing for Mental Health.
- Mental health problems are inseparable from the environment. With virtual reality (VR), computer-generated interactive environments, individuals can repeatedly experience their problematic situations and be taught, how to overcome difficulties with the help of evidence-based psychological treatments,
- Virtual reality (VR) applications for the understanding, assessment, evaluation and treatment of mental health related problems have been developed in last 10 years.
- This medium has provided new possibilities to adapt problematic behaviors that affect mental health.
Reducing Stress and Boredom for Patients in Hospitals
- Being hospitalized can have significant emotional and psychological impacts due to the stress of worrying about one’s health.
- The pain is associated with one’s condition or just the length of time you’re in the hospital away from family, friends and your normal life.
- Hospitalized patients may experience stress, boredom, depression and other effects.
- One of the main benefits of VR in medicine is its ability to alleviate these impacts. VR games can help to distract patients or just entertain them while they wait in the hospital.
- One such game, called DEEP(a type of video game) is designed specifically to help you relax. You control the game with your breathing via a controller that measures your diaphragm expansion.
- As you breathe deeply, the beautiful underwater world reacts, encouraging deep breathing and teaching you yogic breathing techniques that can help relieve stress, anxiety and mild depression.
- Other VR experiences aren’t exactly games, but they allow you to virtually leave the hospital and explore a range of other worlds.
- They could even allow patients to virtually spend time at home or in other places that are special to them.
- With a VR headset and live video from their home or other location, the patient can look around their home and talk with their family from the hospital.
- This can be especially comforting for children, and it means they don’t have to miss special events such as birthday parties or school events because they’re in the hospital.
PTSD and Phobia Therapy
- VR is also playing a growing role in the treatment of mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and phobias.
- VR has been used since 1997 to treat soldiers with PTSD, but today the technology is more advanced and possibly more effective.
- PTSD can be a debilitating condition and has proven to be challenging to treat, but recent studies suggest that using VR could be an effective treatment approach.
- Under the direction of a trained clinician, the patient is gradually exposed to the stimuli that trigger the reaction, potentially helping them to recover more quickly.
- This progressive exposure technique is a common PTSD treatment, but the sensory experience that VR enables may make it more powerful. VR may be used in combination with medications, other kinds of therapy and other treatments.
- You can use a similar approach to treat phobias. Gradual exposure to the object of the fear in virtual environments may help relieve the phobia in real life.
VR has been used in conjunction with counseling and cognitive behavior therapy for the treatment of addictions.
- The scenario where addiction behavior is very likely to occur is replicated using VR, so that the counselor can observe their behavior and reaction to it.
- This information is used to plan appropriate therapy.
- The effectiveness of VR has been verified in the treatment of acrophobia (fear of height), spider phobia, panic disorder, body image disturbances, binge eating disorders, and fear of flying.
- It has also been useful in the treatment of agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), social phobia, claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces), trypanophobia (fear of injection), tonitrophobia (fear of thunder and lightening), and fear of driving. Virtual realty has also been used in cognitive rehabilitation.
- It is used to help autistic adults or children develop the skills necessary for independence like, how to cross a road.
In Psychotic disorders
- Virtual realty (VR) also has applications in the treatment for psychosis. VR is used as an educational component to teach individuals about the factors that worsen or improve symptoms.
- Another use of VR is exposure to persecutory fears (fear of being harmed by someone).
- VR is also used to identify different facial expressions in patients with psychosis,
- Study conducted by researchers found that the use of VR may lead to rapid advances in our understanding of paranoia (feeling of being threaten).
- The incorporation of VR into delusional systems is a possibility, and how to pick up visual cues or the need to pay attention to another person whilst they speak.
- Virtual realty has been used in rehabilitation from schizophrenia and few other disorders.
- VR-based applications can possibly be useful in forensic psychiatry. Preliminary studies indicate its usefulness in assessment of individuals with pedophilia (sexual feeling directed towards children).
- Another application is the use of VR to evaluate the behavior of forensic inpatients in crime-related situations.
The major side effect of this technology is Virtual realty-induced sickness which can present with dizziness, nausea, headache, eye strain, reduced limb control, reduced postural control, decreased sense of presence, and the development of responses inappropriate to the real world.
- Subjects who develop seizures when watching television or playing video games, should not be exposed to virtual reality.
- Virtual environments that promote positive stimuli combined with health knowledge, could prove to be a valuable tool for public health and mental health.
- Virtual realty is no longer unaffordable for individuals, and with mobile phone technology being able to track movements and project images through mobile head-mounted devices, Virtual realty is now a mobile tool that can be used at work, home, or on the move.
- At present, on the basis of evidence, virtual realty (VR) can be considered as a useful tool for medical education, training, diagnosis, and therapy.
- However, the technique is still in its infancy and much work is needed, including controlled trials and extensive research before they can be put to routine use.
- Another factor that should be consider in virtual realty and health, is the substantial cost of these systems.
- This is another barrier that has to be keep in mind, before virtual realty (VR) can be introduced in routine clinical use.