Virtual reality (VR) has become an undeniable powerhouse within the healthcare industry.
The VR marketshare is forecasted to explode to nearly $4 billion this year in the medical ecosystem, as reported by global industry analysts. Grand View Research foresees the market expanding to an unprecedented $5 billion within the next five years.
This cutting edge technology is transforming the healthcare industry across a wide spectrum, from pain management, to training medical students and professionals.
Here are 4 key breakthroughs where VR is making history.
George Washington University hospital is leveraging VR to help grapple the coronavirus disease that is currently pummeling our healthcare system.
A male patient in his 50s, diagnosed with COVID-19, was transferred to GW hospital from another area center after his condition progressed. GW hospital staff made the decision to treat the paitent with virtual reality.
Chief of thoracic surgery at GW Hospital, Dr. Keith Mortman, explained the situation in the hospital’s podcast, “What we’re seeing is that there was rapid and progressive damage to the lungs so that he needed higher levels of support from that ventilator, and it got to the point where he needed maximal support from the ventilator. That was when the outside hospital reached out to our expert team here at GW and the patient was transferred to us for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.”
ECMO is a process when blood is removed from the body, it is then infused with oxygen, and finally returned to the patient. By using VR, the medical team had the ability to see inside the patient’s lungs and understand what damage was occurring.
Detecting Early Alzheimer’s
The University of Cambridge discovered that VR has the potential to help detect early Alzheimer’s disease. With more than half a million UK citizens navigating life with the degenerative disease, the VR research indicates that this technology can not only help with diagnosis, but it is an effective means to monitor the disease too.
Researchers say that VR could also assist in clinical trials of future medications geared to slow, or even stop the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This neurological research is published in the neurology journal Brain.
Walking Again with Parkinson’s
Recent research, published in Experimental Biology, found that VR technology can help improve stability in people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Walking can be taxing for those with Parkinson’s due to nueron damage. Muscle tightness, gait troubles, and relentless tremors can cause injuries, which is why therapies to promote balance is a standard treatment protocol.
K. Bo Foreman, PT, PhD, a professor and director of the Motion Capture Core Facility at the University of Utah, shared, “We are hopeful that this improved performance relates to decreased falls in their everyday life. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease, and anything we can do to impact the progression is a step in the right direction.”
The VR approach helped enhance the balance and confidence of patients in moving around obstacles, according to the findings of those who participated in the Parkinson’s study.
A Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, St. Joseph’s, is using VR technology flight simulations to produce the anatomy of patient models. The models are created using computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images. These 360-degree insights give pediatric surgeons a complete perspective to create a detailed plan.
Surgical Theater Precision Virtual Reality is the technology used to create these representations; it is the same technology used in F-16 aircraft simulations. This VR tool is being applied in the hospital’s surgery programs, including neurology and cardiac.
Take a look at how far VR has come in our last blog .