5 Ways Virtual Reality (VR) is Impacting Medicine

Virtual reality (VR) is becoming a prominent force in the healthcare industry, with the VR market in medicine is expected to grow to $3.8 billion by 2020, according to a report by Global Industry Analysts. Whether you are a physician, patient, or just interested in the technology, read on to see the top 5 headlines surrounding VR in medicine. 

Study Finds VR App to Be as Effective in Delivering CPR Training as a Certified Trainer

A recent study has found that VR is as effective as a certified trainer in providing CPR training. This study, led by cardiologists at the Radboud University Medical Center, was conducted in August 2019 at a large music festival in the Netherlands called Lowlands. The results of this trial, dubbed Lowlands Saves Lives, were published on November 17, 2019, in JAMA Cardiology.

Analyzing Augmented Reality (AR) Use in Spinal Surgery

Technology can be used to project a hologram of a surgical plan above the patient that is visible through goggles worn by the surgeon. In this approach known as augmented reality (AR), the surgeon can see both the physical patient and the virtual animation simultaneously. A study published on Oct. 25th, 2019, in The Spine Journal evaluated the use of this AR holographic navigation in spine surgery and found that surgeons may perform better using this technology.

Using the Technology to Treat Severe Pain

According to a recent study, the use of VR may be able to significantly reduce severe pain in hospitalized patients. VR therapy has been used to effectively treat anxiety disorders, phobias, support physical rehabilitation, help those with Parkinson’s disease walk, and more. Previous work analyzing the effects of VR on hospitalized patients has been hindered by the lack of randomization and short intervention times. This new large-scale study, however, supports the use of VR in alleviating pain. Published August 14 in PLOS ONE, this study was conducted by Brennan Spiegel of Cedars-Sinai Health System and colleagues.

Spinal Surgeons Perform Better When Using VR

Researchers have recently found that spinal surgery outcomes are improved when the surgeon uses VR during the operation. The procedure evaluated in this study, percutaneous kyphoplasty (PKP), is a commonly used treatment for osteoporotic vertebral compression fracture (OVCF). It involves the injection of bone cement through the skin into the damaged vertebrae and requires tremendous precision from the surgeon. The findings of this new study, published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, suggest that this precision is enhanced when the surgeon is wearing VR goggles.

Helping Patients Address Personal Issues

VR has recently been used to help people work through their personal problems in life by embodying a third-person perspective. This system involves the patient controlling a look-alike VR avatar in describing their problems to a virtual copy of the renowned psychologist Sigmund Freud. The user then embodies Freud and gives their own avatar advice on their issues in life, allowing users to talk to themselves as if they were another person.