Impact of Virtual Reality in Healthcare: A Review

Impact of Virtual Reality in Healthcare: A Review

Anitha S. Pillai, Prabha Susy Mathew
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7168-1.ch002
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Virtual reality (VR) is the simulation of reality where the users would be immersed in an artificial/virtual environment that isn't there but creates an illusion as if it really exists. People using this technology get a feeling that they are performing everything in real time. This gives users a sense of satisfaction. Initially, VR technology was used for gaming purposes, but now it is used in many sectors, including healthcare. There are many situations wherein, when it is expensive or impossible to do something, in reality, a probable solution is virtual reality. An important area where it is explored is healthcare for training doctors, diagnosis, and treatment of various ailments. The main objective of this chapter is to shed light on the applications of VR in healthcare and to discuss some applications showing how the medical field has already started reaping the benefits of VR.
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Overview of the Chapter

This chapter provides state of art review of the use of VR in Healthcare. Right from training medical doctors, it is used in treatment of various ailments and to aid in surgery. The use of VR in each of these areas is treated separately. The case studies presented in the chapter cover various VR applications in healthcare such as physical rehabilitation and physiotherapy, cognitive rehabilitation, reducing preoperative anxiety and pain management. The main idea is to put forth the advancements VR has brought in Healthcare and to prove its usefulness by presenting some case studies.

  • 1.

    Background: This section provides the readers with the Introduction to VR, definition, various Components and the essential Software used in developing VR applications.

  • 2.

    Benefits of VR in Healthcare: This section highlights the various areas of healthcare where VR is in use namely

    • a.

      VR in Medicine

    • b.

      Training Medical Practitioners

    • c.

      Reducing Stress and Pain

    • d.


    • e.

      Cognitive Rehabilitation

    • f.

      Physical Therapy

  • 3.

    VR Diagnostics and Treatment: The objective of this section is to give an understanding to the users as to how VR has been used in the diagnostics and treatment of some health conditions. Benefits of VR in Surgery is also presented, the topics discussed under this section are:

    • a.

      VR in Dentistry

    • b.

      VR in Autism

    • c.

      VR in Mental Health

    • d.

      VR in Surgery

  • 4.

    Case Study: There are many real time Healthcare applications where VR was used. In order to familiarize the readers with these works various case studies performed by doctors/ Healthcare professionals and researchers are presented.

  • 5.

    References: The journal papers, books, proceedings and Websites referred in writing the chapter are mentioned in the Reference section.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Immersive Interactive Simulation System: It is a system that provides state-of-the-art interactive environment that blurs the line between the real and virtual world.

Augmented Reality (AR): It is a technology that uses real world environment and enhances it by overlaying digital information on top of it. Example of AR are Pokemon Go and Vein finding system.

Virtual Surgery: It is a virtual reality technique that simulates surgical procedures without the need of a patient or cadaver instead it allows the surgeons to practice surgery on 3D models. It helps the surgeons to have clear understanding of the outcome.

Mixed Reality (MR): It is also known as hybrid reality. It merges the real and digital environments that co-exist and interact with each other to produce new environment for the user to explore and manipulate. Examples of MR is Microsoft’s HoloLens.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET): It is a virtual reality-based exposure therapy for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as severe phobias. The goal of VRET is to expose the patient to stimuli by combining advanced computer graphics, 3D visual displays, and body-tracking technologies to create realistic virtual non-threatening environment so that their mind and body can learn not to become alerted when they are exposed to similar stimuli in real life.

Virtual Reality (VR): It provides the user with computer-generated simulation of a real-life environment or situation. The headset gives the user a fully immersive experience, where what a user sees is a generated or an artificial environment and nothing of it is in the real world. Example of VR is gaming consoles.

Fusion Imaging: It is a technique that uses data from two different imaging modalities such as magnetic resonance image (MRI), computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), etc. to improve the quality of information for increased diagnostic accuracy.

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