When we talk about virtual reality, most people think about its advancement in the gaming industry. But now Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is being introduced in other sectors as well. A great example is the use of VR in the medical sector: the application of this latest technology has entered the field of healthcare and can bring great difference and be of great help both in training and in the practice of medical activities.
In fact, the medical sector is one of the main fields of action of Virtual Reality. There are so many applications to help both doctors and patients. The advantages of Virtual Reality are now applied in surgeries, in patients with disorders and phobias, in the treatment of diseases and especially in medical training.Frequently, people have such disorders as: tachycardia, panic attacks, antisocial behavior, anxiety, as well as psychological trauma after violence, traffic accidents, etc. Using VR / AR applications, patients receive a course of rehabilitation therapy.
For neurological tests, using VR is a fairly effective tool.
Scientists of Tomsk Polytechnic University, together with colleagues from the Siberian State Medical University, announced the ongoing development of an early diagnosis system for neurodegenerative diseases – a method based on virtual reality technology. With the help of VR glasses, an experiment was conducted with a person who has Parkinson’s disease. The patient is immersed in a virtual environment, special sensors fixed on the body, track the movement of the body, if a person easily gets out of balance and cannot return to it again, it means there are complications for which you need to consult a doctor. The system was tested by about 50 volunteers. Among the participants were healthy people. Thanks to the system, you can find out how far a person’s condition is from healthy.
The final cost of the system is unknown, but it will be several times cheaper than foreign analogues and will be available for Russian hospitals. The system can be used for the rehabilitation of patients and the diagnosis of diseases. There are also Swedish scientists who have discovered one of the methods for reducing pain with the help of VR technology.
Max Ortiz Catalan of Chalmers University of Technology, along with his colleagues, worked with 14 people with disabilities, who could not relieve the pain neither medications, nor implants, nor acupuncture, nor any other known treatment options. In virtual reality, instead of the damaged parts of the body, 3D models of healthy body parts are added, which are displayed in the patient’s VR glasses. The technique from the good side proved to be an experiment. Suppose: after losing limbs, the program adjusts the missing part of the body. When a person begins to move, there is a reactivation of the areas of the brain that were once responsible for managing the now missing limb.
This technique helped people recover from pain by an average of 50%.
It is worth adding and such a discovery as a hoax of brain activity. In medicine, there is the term “placebo.” What would be more clear is a substance that has no medicinal properties, it is used to imitate medicines. For example: if a person will be given a pill for a certain time, which will help to get rid of unpleasant sensations, and after the drug is replaced with a pacifier, then the brain independently adjusts the body to the desired effect due to the action of conditioned reflexes. The reaction to the dummy will be similar – the center of brain activity automatically reproduces the familiar effect, and the augmented reality will allow the patient to show how the body fights, destroying bacteria and viruses, thereby engaging in the brain an idea of their work. VR can take a patient to a fictional world where he is healthy. It is expected that this method will speed up the person’s recovery.
Augmented reality on the positive side has shown itself for educational purposes.
The company Vipaar focused on surgery. Engineers have created AR-glasses, which remove what is happening in the surgical ward and relay the remote surgeon, who in turn, using AR-glasses, can correct the actions of the doctor working in the operating room. The hands of the doctor are projected onto the display of the first specialist performing the operation, and sound communication is simultaneously carried out.
In Anatomy, the question of education of interns came up from the other side – engineers labeled a training set of bones, created software that recognizes a bar code and projects information about the subject on the headset screens. Optical recognition in combination with augmented reality glasses has turned the study of the elements of the skeleton into an interactive process that is easily remembered and assimilated.
VR helps rehabilitate people with disabilities in the musculoskeletal system. Engineers and scientists are actively working on the creation of an exoskeleton. The exosuit is equipped with a device for tracking movements and supports the user’s hands so that the muscles do not get tired. The researchers argue that such controls are more intuitive and efficient than using a traditional controller. To direct the procedure in the right direction, using virtual reality.
It is also worth noting such a company as AccuVein, the employees of this company have developed a scanner that shines through the skin of a person, displays veins to the surface, thereby helping doctors not to make a mistake. To make an injection, you first need to find a vein, in order to put an IV line, you also need to find a vein. In some cases, a vein search is a real problem for some patients in whom the vessels are not too clearly visible under the skin. In the future, the scanner will help with the training of medical personnel and daily patient care, reduce the number of errors in the procedures (installing droppers, administering drugs intravenously and taking tests), today there are statistics in which more than 40% of procedures are performed the first time. What will now become fixable.
Thanks to AR and VR, it has become much easier to train medical staff. It is possible to do the operation directly in VR, thereby the intern fills his hand and learns without fear of harming the health of patients.The introduction of VR technology in medicine begins with the training of physicians. In Russia, so far there have been no programs that train personnel in working with VR / AR technologies.
In the Clinical Hospital No. 1, Medsi opened a “smart room of IDF” – a room intended for patients who suffered a stroke or head injury. The patient sees on the screen a home or urban setting, performs actions using simulators. For example – going for a walk or preparing to go to the store. The hall is equipped with biofeedback simulators, which allows the patient to see if the actions are performed correctly, and the instructor to receive information about the effectiveness of the training. At the moment there are various devices for ergotherapy, so that a person can re-learn how to serve themselves; dummies and real household items.
At the moment, the use of VR in Russian medicine is limited to rehabilitation methods.In February, the Government of the Russian Federation approved a plan for the implementation of the Digital Economy of the Russian Federation program, under which, by 2020, there will be 16 projects in the field of health, from artificial intelligence to supersensitive quantum sensors.
In 2020, it is planned to develop and implement an intelligent self-learning system that identifies the boundaries of the localization of tumors, as well as a navigation system for neurosurgery and maxillofacial surgery. For rehabilitation, they plan to implement several projects at once: to develop bionic robotic prostheses, a neuromuscular interface for recording motor intentions and a non-invasive brain-computer interface that will convert intentions into control commands.
According to the developers of the program, the second quantum revolution should take place in 2020, which will help develop “hypersensitive sensors for medicine”, although the functions of these innovative products are not specified. Also over the next two years, a project will be implemented in the field of medicine and rehabilitation with the use of virtual reality technology. The project will be implemented by Total Vision LLC.
So far, VR technology has not yet become a medical routine. The examples given, primarily in the field of surgery, are more likely to research developments.Although VR / AR technologies are only taking the first steps in healthcare, the availability and variety of devices and software are growing, and it can be said with certainty that new technologies will be more vigorously used in training doctors.
Virtual and augmented reality, which will analyze what is happening, will help simplify the diagnosis and treatment of patients, reducing the likelihood of medical errors.Seven Winds Studio specializes in the development of VR / AR projects, ready to solve problems related to both medicine and other topics, such as sales. After all, a properly selected performer with extensive experience is the key to successful project implementation.