As research into VR and AR technologies has evolved, they have found an unlikely home in the medical industry. Now it is being pioneered by medical practitioners in different areas of medicine including mental health studies, pain management, surgery, and even out-patient care.

The possible benefits for the inclusion of these technologies mean that there will only be greater integration of these two worlds as time passes.

The future of surgical work

Great surgeons are not given birth to but are trained through painstaking effort and long hours dedicated to the finest of details. They are held to a standard that is not seen in most other professions because they hold the life of their patients in their hands.

To train these medical practitioners, the industry is always on the lookout for ways to increase efficiency, master skills, and procedures faster as well as make it possible to impact critical skills into every new generation of surgeons in the shortest time possible. Here VR is proving to be such a tool that will take surgical training to the next level.

Places like Hospital Clinic Barcelona, are already exploring the medical training with Virtual Reality.

By immersing trainees into surgical simulations, recording or even live surgeries, you give then a full 360-degree field of view into the intricate steps a seasoned surgeon takes in a given operation.

But it’s not only the trainees that gain from this, the trainer or surgeon in this case, also is free from distractions and interruptions and is left to focus on the patient on the table.

Yet we can go a step further, by creating detailed simulations with VR and its corresponding tools, even veteran surgeons can be trained in new technology such as learning intricate manipulations needed for Robotic Surgeries.

The end result for both of these is having a matter understanding of the procedure which improves the skills of the surgeon and makes it safer for the patient.

The future of nursing training

Don’t be locked in the idea that new technology, such as VR and AR, can only be used to train and assist medical doctors. Nurses and the Nursing field are also developing new and innovative usage of the technology.

For example, there is a VR game that allows nursing students to practice urinary catheter insertion. Nursing students were equipped with the Oculus Rift headgear and interactive gloves, called haptics, they would then be able to practice cleaning their hands and inserting a catheter into a patient’s bladder.

A study published in the March 2018 issue of Clinical Simulation in staff at the College of Nursing at University of Utah (Nursing, Ellertson, Kardong-Edgren and Ann Butt) reported that the VR-trained students had the same success rate as students who practiced the conventional way, on manikins, and that the VR students claimed to have more fun while using the technology.

Let’s take a process like Catheterization as a case study.

Of the approximately 450,000 catheter-associated urinary tract infections that occur annually in U.S. hospitals, 80 percent is attributable to the unsterile catheterization procedure, as stated by a 2011 report by Joint Commission (a company that accredits and certifies healthcare organizations).

VR training would be perfect for this because it is a procedure that is difficult to learn and dangerous to patients if done incorrectly. Nurses would have ample tries and be able to gain experience without endangering the lives of their patients.

4expereince is already leading the charge in creating VR integrated healthcare solutions with its VR Nursing training program. Its aim is to prepare nurses for the best practices within their profession. But that’s not all. By increasing the number of simulated instances they have to perform, efficiency is increases and hesitation reduced. This directly translates to more lives being saved at a faster pace.

Precision increased

Unlike some other fields. The medical industry is held to a higher degree of scrutiny than others. This is due to the fact that there are higher risks involved when things go wrong. Hence, precision is not just another word but a way of life for doctors and nurses that want to be at the top of their game.

This means that when training in VR you are going to need a few tools that stray away from the norm.

First on the list would be the VR Grabbers. They use a pair of chopstick-like handles, a haptic prop block affixed to the bottom stick, an HTC Vive VR Tracker (to track position and orientation), a potentiometer to provide an opening angle, and a joint/spring between both sticks for actuation.

VR nursing training - plaster opening

Next, we have the Haptic gloves which use advanced haptic technology to bring realistic touch, force feedback, and precise motion tracking to virtual reality.

For our third precision tool, we have the Holo-Stylus. Which is a cross-platform input device, that results from its own tracking method based on Artificial Intelligence which enables the highest level of precision. Holo-Stylus’ unprecedented level of precision opens up new control possibilities in areas of medical training.

AR glasses for medical training

What if the vital reading of patients was made available to you as a non-intrusive display using AR glasses during a surgical procedure? How about being able to reference materials and display an overlay of a patient scans over their physical body while performing a surgical procedure?

Getting AR tools into the hands of medical staff to train them in what they need to look out for and pay attention too is not just an idea to talk about. It is already a proven practical approach to medical training.

But beyond the training rooms, AR glasses can assist in the day-to-day activities of nurses and healthcare providers as well as doctors both in and out of the OR.

“First Do No Harm”.

This is the oath that every medical practitioner takes before they are allowed to take up the profession. Tools such as Virtual and Augmented reality are making it possible for this oath to be kept long before a patient is placed in harm’s way. Simply by training and preparing medical staff for difficult and complicated procedures.

Plus, in some cases, it has become a valuable tool to reduce risks and accidents that might otherwise occur in the day-to-day operations of hospitals and clinics.

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