Virtual Reality in Healthcare - Top 5 Uses


Virtual reality is still a very new technology that has yet to be adopted by the masses. Many may not see or understand it’s potential for the future, while others aware of its potential are trying to capitalize on this opportunity. Trailblazers in the VR space are looking to find the best ways to monetize entertaining content or sell their VR experiences and games. Others have been looking to use virtual reality applications for the better good and as solutions to everyday problems.

As the new year approaches and we can anticipate the popularity of virtual reality to rise, so will more companies with virtual reality solutions. Neuro Rehab VR is one of these companies using their expertise in virtual reality programming, combined with the knowledge of medical doctors and therapists to find solutions for many healthcare issues. The uses of virtual reality can affect many different markets, but this will breakdown the TOP 5 virtual reality applications used in healthcare.

  1. Pain, Anxiety, & Distraction - The most popular use of virtual reality in healthcare so far. Requires only a standalone mobile headset with an application. Patients or users can find themselves on the beach, a popular tourist attraction around the world they have always wanted to see, or reliving a moment in history. While immersed in these VR or 360 video environments users can find themselves more relaxed with soothing music to put you in a meditative state and decrease anxiety. Or perhaps you are immersed into a highly stimulant environment like a concert, to distract you from the pain you may be experiencing.

    The use of placing users in alternate environments have been used as a replacement for opioids due to the distraction and relief from pain it provides. Other examples include putting children in VR to distract them and make getting a shot a more enjoyable experience. These VR environments extend into helping those with Alzheimer's refamiliarize themselves with certain environments and regain their memory. The benefits for the user can provide better mental health and a finer quality of life for some senior care users.

  2. Cognitive Training - Outside of the passive viewing experiences described above that most companies easily capitalize on, are more interactive experiences. These experiences really start to explore the applications for different types of therapy. Cognitive training is used all the time in therapy recovery. A lot of this is usually done with real world games or other cognitive tasks that are administered with a therapist.

    In virtual reality, cognitive games become a lot more engaging and enjoyable. By focusing in on the experience or game, users or patients can work on their cognitive abilities in a whole new way, while also integrating physical exercise aspects. Companies like Neuro Rehab VR find it easy to program and create these virtual reality experiences and cognitive training exercises. They plan to integrate a lot of these applications in healthcare to an all inclusive home health solution and stand-alone headset for patients to do their therapy and keep up their wellness from home.

  3. Physical Therapy and Neurological Rehabilitation - One of the most complex solutions in healthcare with virtual reality. Neuro Rehab VR decided to take the hard road first to create an FDA approved application and medical device that consists of a library of exercises to help aid and expedite neurological and physical therapy recovery by leveraging breakthroughs in neuroplasticity. Neuro Rehab VR works with the Medical Doctors and Therapists at the Neurological Recovery Center to design the VR exercises customized to each patient’s needs and targeted therapy plan with the ability to measure, track, and quantify patient progress with real time data feedback.

    By providing functional goals programmed into the virtual reality interactive games, patients of the clinics and hospitals who have adopted Neuro Rehab VR have been able to have a much more fun and engaging therapy experience that helps to rebuild their neurological pathways and inevitably give them the exercise and workout they need. Neuro Rehab VR has been able to help patients who have suffered from strokes, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, and others, progress in their recovery with the Neuro Rehab VR application and exercises.

  4. PTSD - Maybe not the most popular application of virtual reality in healthcare, but definitely one of the most fascinating. Familiar “war zone” or other stimulant environments to trigger PTSD have been recreated in order to help those suffering with PTSD face their most traumatic moments in a more comfortable setting. The whole psychology of the brain when coupled with certain virtual reality experiences is starting to show very interesting outcomes. There is nothing like actually experiencing an event or having the psychological feeling that you are actually there in that environment. This concept applies to all different sorts of application in virtual reality and psychology.

  5. Simulation and Training - Last but not least, there are countless aspects inside healthcare that require training. With virtual reality, we can make that training as real as possible to what you may expect when faced with the actual thing. For example, outside of Neuro Rehab VR, I have also produced virtual reality training videos of the San Francisco General Hospital’s main trauma room. These VR experiences provide the different perspectives of the head doctors, anesthesiologist, scribe, and even the patient (to showcase empathy) of actual real traumas that came into the hospital the days of production.

    These experiences are used to train future doctors working inside that trauma room, assess how they handled the incoming trauma patient, how they operate, how they communicated, where everything is around the room, and so forth. We can then add instructions or other digital overlays into the environment and use other VR technology to study their eye tracking to learn more about where someone in the simulation is looking around the room. Training can go as far as recreating surgeries, what to do inside a birth center, to studying the human body and going inside the organs and veins of 3D constructed models. The possibilities for training are as endless as the ideas to best utilize virtual reality.