To address this challenge, Procedural Choreography in VR can be employed to reduce sensory overload and induce calmness in patients. By transporting patients to a simulated MRI environment, clinicians can assess a patient’s ability to tolerate the actual procedure. This assessment helps in determining if sedation is necessary during the actual MRI, potentially avoiding the need for sedation altogether.
In addition to reducing pain and anxiety, we showed that VR significantly decreases the need for restraining pediatric patients during medical procedures, by almost 50%. This not only improves the patient experience but also frees up additional staff members who would typically assist with the procedure, allowing them to attend to other cases and tasks.
Other roles of virtual reality in healthcare Patient education can empower individuals. VR can bridge the gap between medical jargon and patient comprehension, potentially enhancing health literacy and fostering informed decision-making.
VR provides a novel way to treat mental health disorders: anxiety, depression and exposure therapy for phobias have been studied, with promising results.
Rehabilitation often requires repetitive exercises and VR can make rehabilitation more engaging and inspiring, and even accessible in home environments. For example, a stroke survivor can engage in virtual simulations that mimic real-life scenarios, such as cooking or driving, to regain motor skills and boost confidence.
VR could augment clinician training. VR enables healthcare professionals to access realistic virtual environments allowing clinicians to refine their knowledge, skills and improve decision-making abilities.
Why is VR taking off in healthcare We are in an exciting phase where VR is starting to become mainstream in healthcare and a few factors have been instrumental.
First, the technology has advanced substantially, providing very realistic and immersive experiences. Virtual environments may now reproduce real-world settings with astounding fidelity.
Secondly, the accessibility of VR has greatly improved. Gone are the days when VR systems required expensive and specialized equipment.
Third, there has been a profusion of research investigating the clinical effects of VR in many different healthcare applications, and this has meant that clinicians gain confidence with the technology.