Virtual reality technology is evolving at a rapid rate, and one of the areas where it is creating the most impact is healthcare. More and more hospitals, clinics, and medical practitioners are employing medical VR technology as part of their treatment programs. Research shows that almost 250 hospitals in the US are using VR technology for numerous health-related procedures, as well as to help patients visualize and understand their treatment plans.
Virtual reality in healthcare can provide a more immersive and comfortable experience for the patient. To provide the best medical VR experience, there is a variety of specialized VR equipment available. Let’s take a look at the top 3 popular VR devices used in healthcare today.
TOP 3 TYPES OF VR HEALTHCARE DEVICES
1. Virtual Reality Headsets
Virtual reality headsets look like large, heavy-duty goggles with earphones attached to them. They help to provide a surround-sound and visual experience, and allow patients to experience virtual worlds in 3D, which could include touring an exotic location or swimming in the ocean with dolphins. These are the most commonly used VR equipment because they can be connected to any computer or smartphone with a screen, which makes it cheaper and easier to set up.
Using VR headsets, it is possible to create simulated environments for medical education, virtual reality surgery training, pain management or rehabilitation.
2. Smart Tech Glasses
Smart glasses use an amalgamation of virtual reality and augmented reality to access real-time medical data of patients from any location in the world. They allow medical personnel to make faster and improved healthcare decisions, leading to better care for the patient. Using smart glasses, it is also possible for other medical practitioners who are in a different location to assist with diagnoses or deliver diagnostic data.
Another advantage of smart glasses is the convenience of distancing due to Covid restrictions. These glasses make it possible to diagnose a person remotely, reducing risk of exposure both for the patient as well as the medical personnel.
3. Haptic Gloves
Being immersed in a VR world can definitely help patients experience the most lifelike experiences through sight and sound. But how about the sensation of touch?
In November 2021, Meta’s Reality Labs unveiled a pair of haptic gloves that can enable a computer programme to understand and accurately reflect a wearer’s hand gestures.[i] These gloves can also simulate complex sensations such as pressure, texture, and vibration. The gloves use sensors to read the signals that the brain sends to the wearer’s hands through their neurons, and relay those signals to a computer.
Haptic VR gloves allow the wearer to actually “touch” their virtual reality experience through simulated feeling. This VR wearable device is used in healthcare simulation to help people to better connect to the tactile feeling of their clinical experience, whether it is the pressure of the skin for palpation or the pressure of bone in a surgical simulation. Haptic gloves are highly useful in VR medical training simulations, as they can provide a real-world feel of surgical instruments and procedures.
The latest statistics confirm that the VR/AR market in healthcare will reach $5.1 billion by 2025.[ii] Technological advancements have already made their presence felt at the medicine level and the operative level. With the advent of VR technology, it is time to impact healthcare delivery at the patients’ level. Increasing demand for greater control in the patient’s hands has paved the way for greater disruption in healthcare with the help of VR.