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The Many Ways Virtual Reality Promises To Improve How We Care For Our Health

by Yana Yelina: Virtual reality has become a booming business. The technology has already proven its worth in real estate and banking…

In healthcare, VR also shows big promise. According to Statista, the virtual reality healthcare market was valued at $976 million in 2017.

But what are its use cases? Below are some of the healthcare areas where VR is being widely implemented, and the companies and hospitals riding the wave of change.

Medical Education

2014 was marked by a big event—a UK doctor performed the first cancer surgery broadcast in virtual reality. About 13,000 medical students tuned in to gain experience from the seasoned professional. After that, it became clear VR would be extremely useful in training med students and upskilling their more experienced fellows.

To wit, at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, the time of human cadaver examination is over. The institution uses the anatomage virtual dissection table, which allows students to take a virtual trip into the human body. Thanks to the 360-degree view, med students can see the body from different angles, take it apart, and expand the size to study particular structures.

Another application for VR comes in the form of simulated operations. Future surgeons get a chance to exercise as much as needed before they take patients under the knife. And more experienced surgeons can leverage virtual rooms to learn new techniques or practice life-saving procedures.

Embodied Labs, a startup at University of Illinois at Chicago, confirms VR’s potential to make elder care more sympathetic. Their program “We Are Alfred” lets learners, who are usually in their 20s, experience elderly patients’ symptoms. A VR headset, headphones, and a hand-tracking device help students understand what it’s like to have problems with hearing or suffer from macular degeneration by seeing a large, dark patch in front of them.

Source: Singularity Hub

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