VR: Saving our future through the world of healthcare

We’ve all seen The Matrix, Lawnmower Man and Tron. In the last decade there have been TV shows like Hack Sign, Sword Art Online and even Log Horizon giving you the concept of being in a virtual world. In most cases the arc revolves around the characters being trapped inside the game, unable to return to the real world. This is a fascinating subject especially for the art of storytelling.

Virtual reality has been around since the 1930’s and has become more and more sophisticated. Now we have the technology and a growing market to bring the VR experience into the mainstream. And it’s nearly here, it’s so close you can almost touch it and the general idea of VR was always gaming. But there are more exciting and life-altering ways to use VR, we don’t need to be trapped in a game, to reap the real benefits. So rather than passing the time let’s look at something that can change our perception of VR.

Understanding epilepsy
The VR concept allows for a fully immersive 360 virtual experience. In one of my former blogs, I attended the HealthTech conference at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven and there we saw VR used to spread awareness. INTERU_PSY is a VR epilepsy simulator, here the user can see what it’s like living the life of an epilepsy sufferer and understand just how erratic this disorder can be. Neurologist can use INTERU_PSY as a diagnostics tool and quantify the different kinds and strength of the seizures.

Concussion: The career killer
A concussion is trauma from the result of a head injury like unconsciousness or confusion and is often sustained in contact sports. It’s taken years for doctors to understand the severity of the concussion. In American Football many players have had to hang up their boots or have even died because of it. This has led to a litigation minefield for teams that allowed their players to continue after receiving a blow to the head.

In other sport, most recently one of World Wrestling Entertainment’s biggest pro-wrestlers Bryan Danielson (AKA Daniel Bryan) was forced to retire after suffering multiple concussions over his 16 years in the industry. Doctors discovered a lesion in the temporoparietal region of his brain which was causing seizures.

To spread awareness the University of Arizona have created an app called BrainGainz. BrainGainz puts you in a virtual college football field in the position to be tackled. Once you have been knocked down the VR will reflect the effects of a concussion and the implications that could follow. This can help doctors, the general public and more importantly the players in the long run as they will understand the genuine effects should they suffer their first head injury.

Utilising VR for surgery
In a more practical setting surgeons have been using VR to physically operate on patients. By using the Google glasses and a custom application, Maksymilian Opolski of the Cardinal Wyszynski Institute of Cardiology in Poland performed successful coronary artery surgery. He used VR because his patient had chronic total occlusion and it was too risky to visualise a blockage with CTA imaging.

The VR application provides a 3D reconstruction of the patients artery, allowing them to direct the wire, clear the blockage and plant drug-releasing stents. The headgear helped capture both picture and video through voice recognition he could zoom in and out of the image.

The possibilities are endless
It just goes to show that no matter how many times you watch a movie or TV show that uses VR as the arc of the story, it will be an adventure, it will be exciting and exhilarating. And the same can be said with regards to healthcare and spreading awareness. The possibilities of VR could broaden our minds and be a sure-fire way to save lives.

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[Any other non-sourced imagery was found on an advanced google image search for commercial resuse only]