The training of health professionals, the rehabilitation of patients and the treatment of psychological disorders are some of the main uses of Virtual Reality applied to health.
According to all the experts, health will be, after video games, the sector that will grow most in the application of Virtual Reality in the coming years. A study by Goldman Sachs forecasts that in 9 years virtual reality in health will invoice 5,100 million dollars.
Although there is still a long way to go and research on Virtual Reality applied to health, it is clear that virtual reality is a technology with enormous applications in the health field, both from the point of view of the patient and for the training of medical staff.
In this article we will analyze the main uses that are being given to VR in the health sector.
Virtual reality applied to the patient
We have distinguished 4 areas of application of patient-centered RV, they are
- Mental health treatments
- Rehabilitation of patients
- Improving the quality of life of patients
- Diagnosis of diseases
1. Mental health treatments
Its application in psychiatry is known as virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET). In recent years virtual reality has proven effective in the treatment of phobias but can also be used to improve care for people with ADHD and reduce depression.
Scientific research speaks of three main reasons for the use of Virtual Reality as a treatment for these pathologies: its effectiveness, greater than the imagination and as effective as the live presentation technique; its greater acceptance by the patient compared to other exposure therapies; and the personalization of the treatment, since Virtual Reality allows the doctor to control the environment to which the patient is exposed to the maximum
2. Rehabilitation of patients
In the case of patients who have suffered a stroke, Virtual Reality involves cognitive and motor training that allows them to be exposed to real situations that they will have to face on a daily basis when they leave the hospital. The results of the analysis suggest that rehabilitation under virtual reality is an effective therapeutic complement for the rehabilitation of walking and motor function of the upper limb.
3. Improved quality of life
Reality allows patients to escape from their state and even improve, in some cases, the tolerance to certain treatments. Studies have shown that cancer patients who receive relaxation sessions with virtual reality allow them to lower anxiety and improve overall tolerance to chemotherapy, in addition to reducing emotional upset.
In the management of pain of certain patients are also effective sessions with virtual reality these are considered a distraction therapy that helps reduce anxiety.
In this area we can also talk about other uses of virtual reality, in the case of hospitalized children it helps them to escape and can even be used to communicate with their families.
It is also useful for experimentation by allowing people with disabilities to explore environments and experiences that they could not live due to their limitations.
4. Diagnosis of illness
Virtual Reality also allows the patient to be immersed in a virtual environment where certain types of functional tests that can be used to diagnose illnesses can be carried out. This has been proven by some scientific groups, which have developed an experimental system for the early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases.
Virtual reality applied to health professionals
But we must not forget that Virtual Reality applied to health can also help to improve the skills of health professionals. Through virtual simulators they can perform complex operations or surgeries without risk to the patient and, furthermore, thanks to virtual reality, scientists can go inside the organs and different parts of the human body to see the inside of our body in a unique way and improve their knowledge of its behaviour.
In recent times, there has been a proliferation of studies that show a relationship between the training of health professionals with virtual reality, especially in surgical techniques, and an outstanding improvement in results with real cases.
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