Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are being applied in multiple fields within healthcare and medicine. The applications range from vein detection, autism therapy, education and mental health. As AR and VR continue to improve in quality and experience over the coming years, we can expect to see more broad deployment of the technology.
Here we’ve highlighted some of the more exciting healthcare applications of this type of technology:
Visualize the Things You Can’t Easily See
There are applications in the field including Google Glass devices which help surgeons plan and execute a procedure to HoloLens devices that help teach medical students. One of the simplest to understand visualizations is which allows you to visualize veins without needing any special glasses. The beauty of the technology is how accessible it is for both the physician and the patient.
You can imagine in the future how similar technology could allow the visualization of other things including ultrasound, x-ray and more.
Applications for Pain
It’s not news that kids hate needles but what is interesting is how much of that pain and anxiety is mental, not physical. VR is being used to alleviate pain in kids by removing a lot of that anxiety by turning the experience into a game and transporting their mind to other activities.
The virtual experience is paired with a storyline and the nurses is then able to perform the shots without the tears usually associated with shots and vaccines. A related study done at the Florida Atlantic University goes on to quantify that anticipated versus actual pain and fear were reduced in 94.1 percent of the pediatric study subjects. The applications of this technology in other fields including dentistry, surgery and more has the potential to reduce the use of sedatives and may allow for more regional and local anesthesia for various procedures. These experiences can help across other phobias such as paranoia and fears of flying.
Visualization and hands on actions are critical to learning and techniques focused on anatomy and dissection are a key part of any medical school education. Institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic are augmenting that education by allowing students to visualize anatomy in a whole new way using .
The use of can also be applied in full virtual experiences with training and educational material.
While we typically think of AR or VR as something that is experienced by a person wearing a headset, it can also have applications in accessibility. The device is a prime example. People who have visual impairments can use the device to experience remote assistance in the physical world.
In there is a wide range of other applications of this technology including:
Reducing chronic pain by retraining the brain:
Working with people with autism:
Treating mental health and anxiety: