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Virtual Reality: Beyond Gaming

For most people, virtual reality is synonymous with entertainment, and particularly all sorts of video games. For the “uninitiated”, virtual reality might conjure thoughts about up-to-date versions of classics such as Pac-Man or Mario Bros.  For the more “informed”, or the expert-level gamer, virtual reality means games like Minecraft,  Beat Saber, or Pixel Ripped 1989.  Virtual reality is more than just fun and games.  Virtual Reality is evolving and revolutionizing other industries and fields of study.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and when your daddy is innovation, such relationships produce exceptional results.  Virtual reality is evolving into a tool for health and healing.  With the simulation of the human body, or that of an animal, aspiring surgeons and veterinarians can take a more intimate, but less invasive journey throughout their “patient’s” body and practice their surgical skills.

When it comes to their own health and well-being, patients tend to be less engaged, even when under the direct care of a physician.  Why is this? In part, it’s actual comprehension of what a doctor is telling a patient, but it is also the actual retention of information provided by a physician.  How much of that information, even when it is understood by the patient, is actually retained past the doctor’s office door?

Virtual Reality PneumoniaWhen a surgeon needs to perform surgery on a patient, they will consult with the patient and tell them exactly what they are going to do to them.  Chances are high, that the patient will forget at least nearly 50% of that information Specific studies have suggested that anywhere from 40-80% of that information is lost once the patient leaves the office.  The same holds true for regular office visits.

With a  general emphasis on not keeping patients in hospitals, and on outpatient procedures, people are increasingly put in ever-growing positions of responsibility for understanding and following through, appropriately, with  illnesses, treatments, and even understanding their own prognosis for management outside of direct healthcare influence. If a patient is losing even just 40% of that information from their doctor, as they walk out the door, chances are they are going to come back to the doctor the next time in even worse condition.

“Necessity is the mother of invention, and when your daddy is innovation…”

Retaining information, under the best of circumstances, is difficult.  Studies have suggested that retention of information, delivered via VR, is much higher than information delivered by other means such as traditional videos,  written instruction, and verbal consultation. The doctor’s office is the perfect “home” for virtual reality. Increasingly, doctors are using virtual reality to educate their patients about their own health and current states of well-being and those patients are retaining more of that information, than ever before.

The next time you visit your doctor, you might be in for a pleasant surprise.  Instead of just giving you a prescription for iron pills, because you might be anemic, that doctor may very well introduce you to virtual reality.  This VR experience might show you how that iron is working within your body; showing you how your red blood cells are attracting and holding onto oxygen.  Maybe virtual reality IS fun and games, after all…even when it is applied to healthcare. Can you think of a more entertaining way to learn about your health?

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