Virtual reality is known as a leisure technology, we presented it at the Retail Experience Live as a powerful marketing tool thanks to its immersive properties. Today we are discussing the use in service of medicine on the patient’s side.
What is virtual reality?
VR is an immersive technology that requires the use of a head mounted device. This tool transports users to a virtual environment, in which it is possible to evolve thanks to controllers representing the user’s hands.
Understanding the daily lives of patients with neurodegenerative diseases
Alzheimer’s and Schizophrenia are diseases that are difficult to understand. Virtual reality offers experiences that simulate the daily life of patients: distorted words, strong light, fuzzy writing for people with Alzheimer’s disease, etc. It is a way of understanding what people affected by these diseases are going through so that we can better support them in these situations.
The Neuroscientific Centre in Bonn (Germany) has developed an application to identify the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The application consists in moving through a virtual labyrinth, the objective is to detect changes in movement. This detection method would be effective on individuals over 30 years of age. In other words, it would allow the disease to be detected several decades before the first symptoms appear.
Virtual reality could be a solution to diagnose various degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkison or multiple sclerosis. To date, the most widely used technology to diagnose these diseases is MRI, however this device is not available everywhere and represents a cost.
Virtual reality to improve patients’ daily lives
Virtual reality is a therapeutic aid, in fact it is an immersive technology that has the ability to create a soothing environment for the user. As a result, it can be used in post-operative and chronic pain, focusing on something that stimulates the patient “forgets” the pain and reduces stress. This reduces the use of pharmaceutical products and their side effects.
In addition, for patients who are in bed for a long period of time or whose morale is declining, virtual reality is a way to escape and here again the objective is to reduce the use of pharmaceutical products. For patients with phobia, virtual reality allows a progressive confrontation with the object of the phobia, to succeed in overcoming this fear, here again the objective is to reduce stress before a real confrontation. A similar use is found to combat addictions by placing the individual in a situation where he or she is likely to relapse.
Virtual reality is still being tested in medicine, but the first results are convincing. In the years to come, virtual reality will be a medical tool in its own right, whether for therapies or operations.