Virtual reality for medical use

Virtual Reality is one of the most interesting and fastest-growing technologies in recent years: its versatility allows it to be used for many purposes and in numerous sectors

Written Thursday, by Emanuele Mortarotti

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Virtual Reality is one of the most interesting and fastest-growing technologies in recent years: its versatility allows it to be used for many purposes and in numerous sectors (even in inconceivable ones!) Inspired by an article published on vrscout.com, we’ll explore two uses of VR headsets as medical devices, which could change the way we live.

 

The Karuna Labs company, founded in 2016, uses VR technology to provide chronic pain management programs to patients suffering from pathologies located in the upper and lower limbs, neck, and back, that are neither invasive nor involve the use of drugs.

The Karuna team is composed of neuroscientists, pain doctors, physical therapists, and healthcare IT experts. Here is what they had to say describing their product: "When the body experiences an injury or an accident, the brain controls its perception and transmits "pain signals" to the body, and these signals form "paths". Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to reorganize and form new paths. This process is the key for rewiring it to perceive pain and the movement associated with it as non-threatening. In time, this learning process makes neurons return to "normal" and serene conditions, lessening pain. Karuna software uses Virtual Reality to create neuroplastic changes, immersing the patient in an environment where they increase movement, while blocking pain signals".

 

Osso VR instead offers virtual training to surgeons, allowing them to practice the most common surgical procedures. This "training" opportunity cuts costs dramatically and is an alternative to the expensive and limited training that exists today. Users participating in the program are provided with all the necessary tools they will need to know how to use before entering the operating room; what’s more, they are shown many possible scenarios they might face with a scalpel in hand. To date, Osso VR is used in the surgical training of US institutions such as the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Columbia University, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Harvard Medical School and the Hospital for Special Surgery.

 

With the advent of Oculus Quest, both Karuna Labs and Osso VR have been able to develop a far more convenient alternative to PC Virtual Reality, opening up to students and hospitals as well. Will medical devices with similar technologies soon reach Europe too? Continue to keep up with the Dispotech blog to find out!

Emanuele Mortarotti
Author Emanuele Mortarotti

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