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AR and VR technology is more than just games: Virtual Reality and Healthcare

With metaverse gaining immense popularity, virtual reality (VR) technology has emerged as a red-hot topic. Beyond its conventional applications in gaming and wearable devices, VR and augmented reality (AR) technologies are gaining attention from major investors, particularly in the medical sector. The impact of virtual reality is revolutionizing the methods employed by health professionals in treating and caring for their patients.

Anticipated to witness exponential growth, the global AR and VR healthcare market is projected to soar to a valuation of US$1.6 billion in 2022, with expectations rising to a staggering US$22.2 billion by the year 2030. In this article, we discuss the fascinating world of virtual reality and its pivotal role in modernizing medical care practices. 

Understanding the Distinction between AR and VR in Healthcare 

Understanding the subtle differences between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in healthcare is crucial. While both technologies play pivotal roles, their applications showcase variations. AR facilitates the collection of crucial data and projects this information as immersive 3D models. This dynamic technology integrates with the real world, offering visualizations of data otherwise imperceptible to the human eye. Despite not fully immersing the patient or doctor, AR proves to be a remarkably adaptable technology in the medical sector.

On the other hand, VR technology immerses individuals in a completely virtual environment through specialized equipment. Unlike AR, VR offers an immersive experience, unbounded by the constraints of the physical world. Whether it's a patient seeking therapeutic relief or a doctor engaging in virtual simulations, VR provides an all-encompassing perspective.

Medical Applications of AR/VR

The integration of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in healthcare is bringing in a new era, simplifying the tasks of numerous medical professionals. From surgical procedures and patient education to rehabilitation therapy, AR and VR technologies are proving to be transformative tools. In this section, we explore some standout applications of VR in the medical field.

AR and VR in Surgery

The influence of AR and VR extends to operating rooms and educational settings, benefiting both doctors and healthcare specialists. Before surgical procedures, surgeons leverage VR and AR technologies to explore the intricacies of organs or examine 3D models of complex surgical cases. These technologies find utility in conferences, enhancing the learning process and aiding in patient communication. Video streaming and patient navigation apps empower doctors to oversee real-time and remote surgeries, amplifying their control and precision.

Beyond this, AR and VR technologies pave the way for a more personalized approach to healthcare. By studying the functionality and reactions of patients' organs to specific treatments, doctors can construct digital organ replicas. These digital twins serve as invaluable tools for conducting additional tests and fine-tuning treatment plans. The fusion of clinical expertise with VR technology ensures individualized treatment, contributing to faster and more effective recovery for each patient.

Pain Relief with VR

For over a decade, the medical community has acknowledged the efficacy of distraction in pain management. Our brains perceive pain through nerve signals reaching them from affected areas, but they also possess a limited attention span. Engaging in tasks that demand concentration can divert our attention, diminishing the pain signals reaching the brain and offering relief.

Designed to create a sense of complete immersion in visual stimuli, VR devices emerge as potent tools for distracting pain patients. While it might not eradicate pain entirely, when used in conjunction with medication, VR therapy significantly reduces the necessity for opioids and other potentially addictive pain relievers.

The application of VR technology extends to aiding pediatric burn patients during dressing changes, providing a coping mechanism for enduring pain. Such efficacy has not gone unnoticed; in 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized a VR system explicitly designed to alleviate back pain and fibromyalgia, highlighting the effectiveness of this virtual approach in pain management.

AR/VR in Education and Training

The journey of medical education is no small feat, given the vast amount of information that medical students must absorb. In this complex situation, virtual reality (VR) emerges as an efficient tool for knowledge assimilation, providing a transformative learning experience. Augmented reality games take this a step further, enabling students and interns to engage in virtual surgical procedures without the inherent risks associated with live patient interactions.

This technology not only enhances learning efficiency but also addresses ethical concerns related to practical training. Medical schools can now circumvent the use of cadavers, mitigating moral and ethical dilemmas associated with traditional training methods. A remarkable collaboration between Stanford University, Lighthaus Inc., and Oculus has yielded the Stanford Virtual Heart Model, a groundbreaking initiative launched in 2017. This virtual model is now widely utilized globally in pediatric cardiac centers and educational institutions.

By donning VR headsets, users enter an immersive 3D environment showcasing pediatric congenital heart defects, such as ventricular septal holes or heart valve insufficiency. Through a unique "teleportation" feature, users explore the intricate chambers, blood vessels, and circulatory pathways within the heart, gaining insights into the effects of different heart defects.

AR and VR investment in the medical field also require a large number of sensors and semiconductor components. The more precise the application, the more suppliers with quality assurance are needed. WIN SOURCE is committed to enhancing the medical applications of VR through its strict supplier audit standards which ensures the availability of commodity components.

Wrapping Up

The fusion of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology has transcended the world of entertainment, venturing into revolutionary territories. As the metaverse captures the spotlight, VR technology has emerged as a popular topic, reshaping medical practices and patient care. Distinctive applications in surgery, pain management, and medical education showcase the versatility of AR and VR, from aiding surgeons in intricate procedures to providing immersive therapeutic experiences. The collaborative efforts of academia and industry illustrate the profound impact of AR and VR in modernizing healthcare practices. These developments make it evident that AR and VR are catalysts guiding healthcare into a technologically sophisticated and patient-centric future.