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Virtual Reality Guide

Uses and Advantages of Virtual Reality in Medicine


Today, diagnosis, treatment, and medication education are making use of virtual reality techniques, involving 3-dimensional imaging and surround sound. The first applications of how is virtual reality used in medicine involved the visualization of data sets generated by CT and MRI scans. Now another application has come up which is the virtual colonoscopy in which data from an abdominal CT scan is used to make a fly through of the colon. Then radiologists use this fly though for colon cancer screening. And now improvements in methodology have brought sensitivity and specificity to the technique closer to actual optical colonoscopy and patients prefer the virtual over the traditional method.


Another application of virtual reality is in the treatment of phobias such as fear of height, flying, and spiders. It is also used for post-traumatic stress disorder. Virtual reality therapy has been seen to be effective in the academic setting and now many commercial entities offer it to patients. There have also been occasions when a virtual psychosis environment was used to teach medical students about the auditory and visual hallucinations suffered by patients with schizophrenia.


Virtual reality has also been used to provide medical education about healthcare responses to emergencies such as earthquakes, plane crashes and fires. The primary advantage in phobia treatment is a safe environment which patients can explore, while the primary advantage in emergency preparedness is simulation of events that are too rare or too dangerous for effective real world training. Virtual reality has an immersive nature that helps to recreate the sense of urgency or panic associated with these events.


For medical and public health professionals, virtual reality has been used for a variety of medical emergency, mass casualty, and disaster response training sessions. One study developed a protocol for training physicians to treat victims of chemical-origin mass casualties as well as victims or biological agents using simulated patients.


It was found, however, that using standardized patients for such training was more realistic, but the computer based simulations gave some advantage over the live training. These benefits include increased cost effectiveness, the opportunity to conduct the same training sessions over and over to improve skills and the ability to use just in time learning techniques, and experience the training session at any time and location while adjusting the type and level of expertise required using the training for various emergency response professionals. There are also those that have studied the potential for training emergency response for major health emergencies using virtual reality. Their goal was to increase exposure to life-like emergency situations to improve decision -making and performance and rescue psychological stress in a real health emergency. Check out comparisons of VR vs. AR at this website.