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Term: Virtual Reality in Healthcare

Description:


Virtual Reality is a computer generated artificial environment that a user can interact with to achieve some purpose. This technology acts on the users senses to allow them to experience the world in a very immersive way. Currently most VR technology provides mostly visual and possibly auditory stimuli to the user, but it is hoped that in the future that this can be improved to full immersion, where the user can feel like there are actually there.

Virtual reality is still in its early stages as a viable technology. Right now a lot of it's use is through virtual worlds, like Second Life. Many other industries see potential for the technology, but right now most of these are still in development and quite expensive to implement.

Applications:


There are many potential uses of VR technology but for healthcare the applications are:

Teaching:

Virtual environments could be used to give doctors training on difficult procedures without any risk to a real patient. This would a a great potential teach aide for medical students also.

Rehab:

The use of VR in a patients rehabilitation has great potential for helping the patients progress. This is mainly do the the stimulation a virtual environment can potentially provide to a crippled or immobile patient.

Medical Databases:

Virtual reality can be used to display information in interesting ways. In this sort of environment you can create something the works like a combination of a web browser and a public library in a sense. Data can be moved through quickly like a digital document, but at the same time there is the benefit of being able to look for your information in a visual way


Surgery:

Using this technology doctors can engage in remote surgery, effectively preforming an operation from no where near the patient. This is done by simulating the procedure in a virtual environment and havingthign the doctor preform it. Their actions are then transmitted to robotic instruments which mimic the process



Web Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality#Background - Wikipedia Entry
http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/v/virtual_reality.htm - Webopedia Entry

Citations and Sources:


http://www.kaloramainformation.com/Virtual-Reality-Applications-1514009/
http://www.healthcareitnews.com/story.cms?id=7990
http://www.leadershipmedica.com/sommari/2007/numero_06/medicina/Comite/Comite_UK.htm