Medical Training in VR
Over the last decade, the medical training industry has experienced rapid advancements in technology leading to all kinds of possibilities. Most recently, developments in virtual reality (VR) technology and its increased adoption in many fields is making it more affordable and lifelike than ever. It’s not hard to imagine how this increase in VR use could make for more interactive learning, including exciting plans for medical VR training in the near future:
Human Anatomy Study
The impact of VR on the study of human anatomy is profound. VR training will allow students and doctors to study interactions between every bone, joint, muscle, and organ, as well as the whole nervous system, with expert precision. It will also allow them to view patient-specific models with real MRI and CT-scan data to better train and prepare for procedures.
Like a 3-D puzzle, the models will have all the necessary information while also providing a more practical understanding than lectures or static images can, at no risk to anyone and without using up any resources.
No less valuable is the opportunity for empathy training. Live data and experiences from actual patients in different life situations, like the elderly, disabled, or injured allows doctors to more fully understand and appreciate what their patients go through, helping them to provide care in kinder, more understanding ways.
For example, a simulation might simply place the doctor at a wheelchair’s height as they slowly scroll around and keep an eye on their chair’s battery life. It would help them understand the frustration of things being too high to interact with, too steep to get up safely, force them to navigate around the many stairs in life, or the experience of everyone they converse with standing over them. These are things a textbook or a second-hand account just can’t communicate fully.
Even the simple act of watching a surgical procedure will be completely transformed, as VR will allow those viewing to watch with various overlays offering additional information and steps.
Viewers will be able to get closer than ever before, with the ability to zoom in and magnify in a virtual environment, with a full body to operate on being generated from actual patient MRI and CT scan data. As compared with a video, the surgery can be viewed many times from infinite angles and closeups, allowing students and residents a full understanding of procedures.
OR Surgery Practice
Of course, perhaps the most valuable use of VR in medical training is in surgery practice. VR will give medical professionals the ability to practice full procedures, with actual patient data and haptic feedback providing life-like resistance, just as human skin, organs, and bones would. Moreover, it gives them the ability to practice on realistic simulations of patients that are in pain, or yelling, or aggressive, providing a chance to train for multiple real life situations with no danger and infinite retries. It will also allow the opportunity to practice on many different types of cases of varying complexity, common and uncommon, as well as the chance to train with specific devices or tools.
In conjunction with VR anatomy training, students get real, applicable knowledge right away, along with a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the parts and functions of the body, both individually and as a system. It’s like going straight from gross anatomy into practicum.
Medical Training Will Get Even Better
The many ways in which VR can improve medical training paint an exciting picture for the future of medicine, and perhaps the most exciting part is that there will be even more practical uses for this technology that we haven’t yet seen. As new uses are developed and enter into clinical testing the value of VR training will only continue to rise.