Believe it or not, virtual reality is not just a ‘fad’ or the next big trend and many healthcare institutions are already using this technology in some capacity. In fact, recent statistics show that more than 240 hospitals in the United States are using virtual reality to assist various health-related procedures and help patients visualize and understand their treatment plans. The VR/ AR market in healthcare will reach $5.1 billion by 2025.
The truth is, the role of virtual reality is hard to define but healthcare is one of the major adopters of this technology which can help with skills training, treatment for phobia and even surgery simulation. On the other hand, pain management is a common focus and scientific studies indicate how virtual reality can help alleviate stress and anxiety for patients experiencing acute pain.
Although it might seem like an extravagant or expensive solution, VR is also surprisingly affordable and certainly accessible to the general public. With so many experts recommending these methods, it’s fair to say that every hospital should soon be able to offer this alternative to patients.
Ways in which innovation in VR has reached the Healthcare field
Head-Mounted Display – You have likely seen one of these before and HMDs are those big, heavy-duty goggles with earphones attached to them. Needless to say, this provides a surround-sound and visual experience.
Smart Tech Glasses – Smart glasses might look like regular glasses, but they display information which can enable a physician to add critical data to the patient’s electronic health record. We have also witnessed prototype models which should also allow these glasses to use similar features to the headset mentioned above.
Desktop Virtual Reality – Mostly used for training, desktop VR technology is an effective way to simulate complicated programs and procedures.
Haptic Gloves and Treadmills – Users can physically move around inside the virtual reality experience and move object with these incredibly smart gloves.
And this only begins to explain the real benefits of virtual reality in healthcare…
Widespread Development and Adoption in the Medical Industry
At the same time, even the big boys are getting in on the act and medical virtual reality is one of the fastest growing and most captivating technologies in recent times.
We can also see this same transition elsewhere in the world and many leading universities are investing heavily in the research and development associated with VR. In the United Kingdom, the University of Leeds has officially partnered with the Countess of Chester Hospital which is now using VR headsets to help stroke victims re-learn certain daily tasks or activities.
Financially speaking, these efforts also make a lot of sense, for virtual reality technology can result in huge long term savings in terms of both time and money.
In spite of clear progress and advanced techniques, virtual reality technology is still in its infancy. For this reason, many people and even experts find it hard to think about this technology as anything more than a fad, trend or the latest buzzword.
At the same time, it’s most important to remember that beyond all the hype and speculation, these buzzwords are real and this virtual reality technology is already proving to enrich and enhance the lives of patients all over the world.
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