Augmented and Virtual Reality in Healthcare:

Examples in Simulated Surgery, Trauma Treatment, and Remote Healthcare

AR and VR medical applications already apply to a variety of illnesses. Experts continuously develop new augmented and virtual reality applications in healthcare in the hopes of bringing them to market.

Virtual Reality in Healthcare: Training Surgeons and Nurses

Surgeons must have as many opportunities as possible to train and develop their skills. When the time comes to perform a procedure on an actual patient, they need sufficient experience to boost the odds of a positive outcome.

Up until recently, providing surgeons with training opportunities has required the use of cadavers and models that aren’t always available. Barriers have unfortunately limited the degree to which surgeons can train.

That’s no longer the case. At numerous medical schools and teaching hospitals throughout the world, surgeons have begun training for various procedures with augmented and virtual reality. Because these don’t require access to the same resources as traditional training, it allows surgeons to train more frequently than they could in the past. The result? More qualified surgeons, and thus, a higher likelihood of successful surgeries for patients.

On top of surgical training, nurses have also begun using augmented reality in healthcare. AR glasses and handheld scanners help nurses to more easily see veins when they need to draw blood or perform a vaccination. At a busy clinic or hospital, where numerous patients require care, every nurse’s time becomes critical. The less time a nurse spends looking for a vein, the more time they can spend administering treatment.

AR and VR Help Veterans Overcome PTSD

The trauma of war leaves many veterans with emotional scars that may be overlooked. Combat-related mental health injuries are a more common problem than some realize. According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 11-20% of veterans from America’s recent wars in the Middle East will struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within a given year. Additionally, from 2008 to 2016, approximately 6,000 veterans took their lives, often as a result of PTSD.

PTSD is evidently a problem that needs addressing. Fortunately, virtual reality solutions in healthcare present an effective way to help struggling veterans.

Exposure therapy is often used to treat PTSD in veterans. It involves replaying a traumatic experience in one’s mind multiple times. Eventually, constant exposure to emotional triggers makes the experience feel less traumatic for a veteran. As a result, thoughts of it don’t lead to feelings of panic, anger, or any of the other emotions associated with PTSD.

That said, exposure therapy tends to be more effective when a veteran can replay an experience in their mind with vivid detail. Visual realism isn’t always easy to achieve. VR is changing that. With VR, it’s possible to immerse veterans in virtual renderings of battlefields to a greater degree of detail than ever before. VR treatments have yielded major improvements in veterans who have already undergone this type of treatment.

Of course, veterans aren’t the only ones who can benefit. Anyone struggling with PTSD could use VR-based exposure therapy to overcome their condition.

Remote Healthcare Services

The examples above illustrate some of the uses of augmented and virtual reality in healthcare. However, experts believe new applications are likely to emerge in the near future.

Remote healthcare services may become more common as the technologies continue to improve. Recently, medical teams demonstrated remote surgery, with a surgeon operating from one location and a patient in another. 

Geographical distance is not a problem with AR or VR, as long as the network connectivity is fast and stable. 

the Future of Augmented and Virtual Reality in Healthcare

AR and VR medical applications offer substantial value to both patients and physicians. That’s why they must be built with the IT architecture required to function reliably. Ormuco can provide just that. 

Our autonomous platform leverages 5G networks to accelerate processing in real-world applications, it provisions and manages thousands of nodes, and is built to handle AR/VR workloads of any kind. That’s the type of infrastructure a reliable AR/VR healthcare application needs.