MedGizmo - MedGizmo: VR & AR in Healthcare Overview
08.05.2016, 17:22   MedGizmo

MedGizmo: VR & AR in Healthcare Overview

Recent boom in Virtual/Augmented Reality that was sparked by introduction to the market of new headsets, showed an intense interest in this industry by everyone. In my short overview, I attempt to look at some latest developments with some statistical research data and practical applications.

According to IndustryARC reports Augmented Reality in healthcare applications are:
  • Surgical
  • Rehabilitation
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery
  • Simulation

Virtual Reality applications involve
  • Diagnostics
  • Phobia Treatment
  • Dentistry
  • PTSD Treatment
A recent study from IndustryARC shows that the global market value of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality was around $1.2 Billion in 2014, where “Dental Simulator” based on virtual reality is the dominant segment among healthcare applications, generating revenue of $223 Million in 2014. Dental stimulator provides three dimensional models of the human oral cavity and teeth and is creating huge market for the Virtual reality applications. Robotic surgery is the fastest growing market, moving at a CAGR of 40.2% followed by virtual rehabilitation segment, growing at a CAGR of 27.4%. Robotic surgery market is expected to increase in future due to increase in safety, efficacy and rise in minimal invasive procedures.

It is impossible within our site to cover the whole subject, however, I will provide some brief summary and links to some notable information.

Not long ago The Wall Street Journal published the post How Virtual Reality Can Enhance the Life of Older Adults which is widely cited in the media. Among other thing, it mentioned the following areas, where VR can be applied in healthcare:
–Sensory enhancement via augmented and cued auditory and visual sensations to compensate for hearing impairment, macular degeneration and other common age-related maladies.
–Cognitive enhancement via visual and auditory cues, symbols and reminders.
–Brain training via regularly cued lessons.
–Musculoskeletal and neuromotor enhancement.


One of the most explored areas of Healthcare VR is Sensory Therapy. As an example, Microsoft’s Kinect motion-sensing cameras are used in Australian virtual Forest Project the helps Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

This scholarly paper by Canadian researchers Linda Garcia, Adi Kartolo and Eric Méthot-Curtis A Discussion of the Use of Virtual Reality in Dementia looks at the issue in detail; a good chapter is on Immersive virtual environment technology and individuals with dementia.

The Independent describes virtual reality Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) machine used for dementia treatment.  It is also being used to support stroke victims and people recovering from brain injuries

The CAREN (Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment)
Formerly only available to the military and research institutes, this cutting edge technology is now available to the public for the first time in the UK at the Brain And Spinal Injury Centre, Salford.
Virtual Reality can speed up brain injury rehabilitation and reduce the impact of brain damage

A very good description of this experience is provided by one of the nurses HERE

Last year it was reported that Alzheimer's disease can be detected decades before onset, using a virtual reality test.

 Australian Build VR interactive agency that specializes in immersive digital content has this project: VIRTUAL REALITY FOR AGED CARE

Build VR provides a number of applications installed and ready to play including:
  • VRelax: Build VR’s own application created specifically for relaxation within Aged Care. Choose one of the three locations (beach, lake or stream) to relax in a dream environment.
  • Cirque Du Soleil: Sit in the front row at the world’s greatest show! With performers surrounding you, this experience is truly immersive.
  • Eden River: Float down a quiet tranquil river, sway your head left to right and navigate through this beautiful scenery.
Alzheimer Europe, organization of 37 Alzheimer associations from 32 countries, developed and tested
Into D’mentia simulator

Into D’mentia: Development & evaluation of a virtual-reality experience of dementia
A mobile Into D’mentia intervention was developed in which informal carers and professional carers can experience what it is like to have dementia and how it impacts the life of a person with dementia. User friendliness and usefulness are positively evaluated by informal and professional carers.

The developed Into D’mentia intervention consists of a simulator in a mobile container using virtual reality and serious gaming techniques, by means of which participants experience the impact of dementia in daily life situations. Besides the simulator, one week later participants are offered a short group training (half a day)
This is very nicely described in presentation


There are also some other interesting VR applications, among them – building quality hospitals
Doctors Without Borders Uses Virtual Reality and 3D Printing Technology to Build Better Hospitals

Here is an example of one of the latest stories:
3D Planning & 3D Navigation and Augmented Reality in the Operating Room.

The Huffington Post describes this:
Virtual Reality Healthcare: A Fantastic Voyage

Dr. Martin is the chair of neurosurgery at UCLA. Dr. Martin and his team are working with a technology developed by a company called Surgical Theater to use VR headsets to let surgeons to journey inside their patients’ brains. By using a VR environment to explore a malignant tumor in the patient’s brain, doctors are able to “fly around” the tumor, see it from all sides, spot potential complications, and mentally prepare for the high-stakes operation.


There are two articles of interest that I recommend to read:

08.05.2016, 17:22   MedGizmo
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