The interest surrounding virtual reality (VR) only continues to grow with each passing day. Such rapidly evolving technologies have been instrumental in changing the way industries operate. Although VR technology is commonly associated with the gaming industry, it is no longer restricted to just one field anymore. Several industries are incorporating VR technology to develop newer methods and improved processes.

The implementation of VR in the healthcare industry is garnering a lot of interest due to the potential it holds for numerous applications like robotic surgery, healthcare devices, medical training etc. These applications are growing in popularity and are being adopted across several healthcare organizations and more importantly are being accepted by medical professionals as an important and beneficial tool.

8 Key Applications of Virtual Reality in Healthcare
The healthcare industry has been at the forefront of adopting VR technology in its processes. Robotic surgery, phobia treatment, surgery simulation and skills training as just a few of their applications. Several healthcare organizations are turning to this new technology due to the numerous benefits it provides and enhances their processes.

Let’s look at some of the key applications of virtual reality in healthcare:

Medical Education
VR simulation technologies have been incorporated in medical education and training for a while now. Some of the biggest VR developers are creating products that combine 360-degree videos and a 3D interactive environment to develop different learning programs and scenarios for medical students and physicians. The technology allows them to practice complex, life-saving procedures in a risk-free environment, improve their skills and get feedback during training. Now, technology is also being used in nursing.

Virtual Reality in Diagnostics
VR can also be used as a diagnostic tool that enables doctors and physicians to carry out an accurate diagnosis. This is conducted through a combination of other methods like MRI and CT scans, and removes the requirement for any type of invasive techniques, resulting in a painless experience for the patient.

Mental Illness Treatment
Exposure therapy has become the standard procedure for treating various kinds of mental illness. VR is changing the manner in which exposure therapy is carried out for mentally ill patients by giving a low-cost, flexible and low-risk solution to treating mental illness. Using VR technology for exposure therapy has been proven to keep the body relaxed and calm, and shown tremendous promise in treating anxiety and panic attacks.

Pain Management
Cognitive distraction methods are used to manage different types of pain for a while now. VR games allow patients to experience a more immersive environment filled with interactive features. While some VR applications provide a therapeutic experience for burn victims, they have also been proven to be efficient in limb pain management. Additionally, VR acts as a drug-free pain management tool that does not necessarily require the patient to be in a medical environment to use the technology.

Physical Fitness and Therapy
The fitness industry is undergoing constant changes in the way exercises and workout routines are carried out. Several startups are incorporating cardio routines with VR technology to add a new dimension to the way we exercise. Also, VR has played a major role in the development of physical therapy, where patients are subjected to an exercise routine that uses VR instead of drugs or invasive surgeries.

Virtual Reality in Surgery
Surgery has been one of the most popular and prominent uses of virtual reality technology amongst the physician community. Although the surgery is performed by a robot, it is controlled via a VR headset by a human surgeon. VR also plays a key role in telesurgery, which allows surgeons to operate on a location in a different location. VR’s feature of force feedback allows surgeons to measure the amount of pressure they need to exert while performing delicate procedures like dentistry etc.

Human Simulation Techniques
VR is incredibly useful for recreating human simulation techniques that allow doctors, physicians, nurses and other medical professionals to interact with each other. They can engage in various training exercises that allow them to interact with a patient in a 3D environment. This immersive experience allows them to determine the emotions exhibited by the participant using a network of sensors.

Other Applications
VR facilitates various human simulation techniques and allows doctors, physicians, nurses and other medical professionals to experience medical training, diagnosis, treatment and surgery in a 3D environment. This has led to the development of several other applications of VR in healthcare, some of which are mentioned below:

  • Virtual reality in Dentistry
  • VR treatment for PTSD
  • Virtual reality in Nursing
  • Autism treatment using VR
  • Surgery simulation using VR
  • VR for the disabled
  • VR in phobia treatment