What makes virtual reality so special is that it alters our perception of the world. It gives us the possibility to think, feel and perceive differently. What started as a new form of entertainment is changing our lives by leaps and bounds and has become a great ally of science.
Virtual reality is the creation of an environment produced by a computer system that gives us the feeling that it exists in reality and allows us to move to any place experiencing that we are in that environment in a very similar way to reality. It allows us to live totally realistic experiences through games, travel around the world or even feel that we can fly without leaving the sofa at home.
How is VR applied in medicine?
In addition to its applications in the field of play, virtual reality is extremely useful in the field of medicine. The applications of virtual reality in medicine are many and varied, but mainly focus on these uses:
The main application in the case of surgical operations are remote interventions in which the doctor does not operate directly but does so through a robot that performs the different steps of the operation. The surgeon in question may be away from the robot or even in another hospital. Given the great precision that these robots provide, they are very useful in microsurgical operations, and there is even talk of the possibility of performing operations in the absence of specialists.
Through VR simulators, doctors also improve their dexterity and performance in the operating rooms significantly, which is wonderful news, since by means of a three-dimensional representation of the patient’s anatomy they can plan and rehearse a surgery beforehand to avoid possible complications. during the “real” intervention.
Treatment of phobias and trauma
The use of virtual reality to treat phobias or psychological trauma is also a recurring use in the field of psychology. Phobias are psychological disorders or irrational fears that some people have when faced with certain situations or elements. Through virtual reality, the patient can be sequentially exposed to situations that generate panic (claustrophobia, fear of flying, arachnophobia) and reduce the anxiety thresholds that these fears manage to produce.
On the other hand, psychologists also use virtual reality as therapy so that their patients are able to overcome certain traumas originating in childhood or situations experienced that have generated a shock in the person.
Therapy against Alzheimer’s or Autism
At the moment, Alzheimer’s is a disease that has no cure, but there are virtual reality techniques that can help patients regain cognitive abilities through the reproduction of images from the past. Lack of concentration or feeling apathetic are consequences of Alzheimer’s in people who suffer from it and through this system it is possible to enhance the patient’s concentration and improve their attitude.
Researchers from the University of Valencia have developed the Savia project to help children with autism. Children must complete an objective in a virtual environment and then try to overcome it in a real environment.
With virtual reality, people with autism can learn to cope in everyday situations such as having a conversation or crossing the street from one side to the other. These situations represent a challenge for people with autism.
There are simulators that allow medical students and graduates to develop technical skills and abilities as if they were in a real-life situation. Through these simulators, future medical professionals can practice catheterization, surgery, endoscopies or give anatomy classes without having to have corpses or animals to carry out their practices.
Medical students will be able to rehearse continuously at no extra cost and they will not need to do practices to begin to know the human body in the most realistic way possible.