Virtual reality (VR) is already being used in healthcare for everything from diagnosis to treatment and the global market is projected to reach US$3.8 billion by 2020, with big developments on the horizon.
One of the major advantages of this type of technology is that it allows medical staff to learn new skills away from patients and in a safe environment.
The technology is about to improve substantially in the coming years by enabling doctors to train and interact with 3D images of organs as if they were real. They will be able to take a tour of a patient’s organs and even make incisions as they would in a surgical environment.
So how is it being used at the moment to help patients?
Phantom limb pain
Virtual reality company MindMaze has recently raised more than $100 million in funding to further the development of its augmented reality game which is designed to help amputees with phantom pain management.
By using mirroring motion capture the brain begins to believe that the severed limb is actually still there, helping the muscles to relax and reducing the level of pain they feel.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
It has been tipped as a revolutionary step for psychological therapy and now VR is being used to help soldiers with PTSD. Headphones and headsets have been used to transport sufferers back to the situation which resulted in the trauma, to help them address their fears and find new ways to cope with their stress.
VR is also being used to transport anxiety suffers to another time and place, allowing them to calm down and find ways to best manage their triggers. A new app for Oculus Rift called DEEP aims to encourage meditation and helps users learn how to take deep breaths by making breathing the only control for the game. The VR experience is similar to being in an underwater world.
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