Medical virtual reality


Author – Aslaha Ali






Books allow us to imagine it, and movies allow us to see it, but VR is the first medium that actually allows us to experience it.”



Virtual reality is the use of technology to create an entirely different environment from reality. Here, instead of just viewing a screen,the user is allowed to immerse in the situation. VR mainly includes educational,gaming purposes. Also the medical field is important here.


How does VR work in the medical field??


Virtual reality headset is the main equipment here. It contains a Head Mounted Display (HMD) and a small screen near the eye. Also VPL Research datasuit , (a full body outfit with sensors for measuring the movement of arms ,legs,and trunks) is used. Virtual reality equipment helps the patient to look around the artificial world, move around in it and interact with virtual features or items. So users can experience physical presence in a virtual environment.


Advantages of VR in Medical field


It is used in rehabilitation of Alzheimer’s disease. It is also effective in treating cognitive deficits with neurological diagnoses. Persons who lose mobility feel a sense of loneliness. These can be reduced with the help of VR. Exposure therapy helps to reduce the phobias. Through this the patient is exposed to different scenarios and situations. So it helps the patient to deal with it efficiently. Mirror therapy by Virtual reality is the rising method of treatment for stroke. Here patients are allowed to wear a Oculus Rift( VR headset) and they are instructed to perform a set of movements and games. If a person can’t move one of his hands, then he is advised to put that hand inside a box ,where he can’t see it. At the same time attention of the patient is captured outside the box where there is a mirror. The mirror reflects the movements of their other hand and makes it appear that both hands are moving normally. Traditional methods of treatment are not able to cure Phantom limb pain. So mirror therapy with VR is used here.


First Virtual Reality surgery was done by Dr.Shafi in 2016. Virtual reality surgery helps to train aspiring surgeons and surgeons to practice operation. Moreover it is used by womens to reduce labor pain.


A study conducted at St. George Hospital, London shows that 94% of patients got relaxation, 80% experienced less pain and 73% experienced less anxiety during treatment by Virtual Reality. Use of Virtual reality in medical students helps to improve their empathy and feelings. They can deal with saying bad news or something like that. Also they can go through the situation of patients. For example, the feeling when one gets severely injured etc. By this way doctors can support patients mentally as well as physically. Moreover it helps those who are affected with Parkinson’s disease. Apart from all this, it helps to reduce post traumatic stress. It was used in the 2017 Mexico City earthquake. More than these, it can be used in generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, depression, mild cognitive impairment, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD etc. It is also used in diagnostic assessments areas like medical image review,neuropsychological assessment, daily living assessments, behavioral medicine (psychology, psychiatry) assessment etc. It is very important to note that 20 major sectors get benefitted. That is


  • Stress management
  • Phobias
  • Surgical training/ Planning
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Pain and difficult procedure management
  • Exercise
  • Cognitive rehabilitation
  • Optical rehabilitation
  • Addiction
  • Neuropsychological assessments
  • Cognitive training and wellness
  • Sports medicine
  • Disability solutions
  • Speech therapy
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Mood disorders
  • Patient education
  • Preventive health
  • ADHD
  • Senior health


Disadvantages of VR in medical field


Like a coin, which has two sides, VR also has two sides. Long time use may lead to cyber sickness, eye fatigue, loss of awareness from real world surroundings etc. Eye fatigue means strain to focus on a pixelated screen.Reports say that 0.025% users have epilepsy, seizures, and develop issues in children. Addiction to the virtual world is another problem. The learning curve is also a matter of concern.


Challenges faced by Virtual reality in medical field


The main challenge is cost. The equipment used for this is very expensive. Many systems run between $100 and $600. Low resolution content and large file size are the other issues. VR platforms require some kind of download to begin. Often the file sizes are over 1 GB and requisitely. Video quality is also a matter of concern. Hardware in VR cannot afford videos in stereo format. So we feel grainy and muffled like.




VR at its best shouldn’t replace real life, just modify it, giving us access to so much just out of reach physically, economically. If you can dream it, VR can make it.




Even though this field has somany defects,if we are ready to make change we can….So let’s join our hands for a better tomorrow 🙂


Tags : technology, medical field, virtual reality, new era, health, treatment 


Aslaha Ali

Mar Athanasius College of Engineering

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