AR and VR in medicine

When we hear about virtual reality, we imagine players in VR helmets, chasing monsters or facing a virtual live casino† In fact, these technologies are used in serious fields such as medicine.

VR helps with recovery after a stroke. For example, this technology helped a paralyzed person recover after four years of immobility. At the Scientific Center for Neurology, he recovered and started walking. Lessons in virtual reality become part of the main therapy. The green man on the virtual screen is a projection of the body. The sensors determine the position in the room. Algorithms analyze the technique of performing exercises, gradually training becomes more difficult.

The movements seem simple, but the important thing is that the brain is actively working. Restore connections between neurons. And it remembers how to control the muscles.

The target visible on the screen helps the brain. The game element with bonuses adds motivation to the patient. Even adults need encouragement when they have to make monotonous movements.

Even simple computer games help to restore nerve connections after injuries or strokes. Fully immersive VR technologies can be even more effective. They also have narrower applications. The inventors managed to fit a large diagnostic device into a small virtual reality helmet. It’s the perimeter for ophthalmologists. It estimates the size of the field of view. This is important, for example, in glaucoma.

At the start of their studies, medical students are already confronted with a new reality. VR auditoriums are places where future doctors can roll up their sleeves at the operating table. They can study anatomy in depth.

Virtual reality cannot of course completely replace practice. The sensations are not the same at all. Teachers say VR only helps to improve remembering actions, which is a lot.

Not virtual, but augmented reality (AR) also helps surgeons with real operations. At the hospital of Johns Hopkins University in the US, employees tested special glasses. They project the patient’s tomography data onto the operating field in real time. The doctor will eventually receive additional information about the exact location of the instrument.

Neurosurgeon Timothy Witham performed the operation with such glasses. He compared it to a GPS navigator. And the developers call their know-how x-ray vision for doctors. A similar development is also helping nurses find injection veins by suggesting their location.

Virtual reality is a true marvel of technology. VR has already gone beyond computer games and live online casinos† Business and science are making active use of VR and AR. We are waiting for these technologies to become a daily reality.

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