Healthcare has a long history of benefiting from new technologies, and it started using virtual reality surprisingly early. Education, rehabilitation and early detection are the three main areas where VR can contribute the most.
Education and visualisation
VR can help education in two distinct ways. First, it can help medical students and medical professionals to practice complex medical treatments, such as surgeries. Some universities, including Stanford, have been using virtual reality for years now in medical training. As a student you can see exactly the same as your professor conducting an operation. Practicing in virtual scenarios is cost effective, and very accessible.
VR can also help people who are not medical professionals, but who are living with a medical condition, or just want to learn more about a specific medical symptom. Since virtual reality can simulate any medical condition it can teach parents how to raise a child with disabilities. It helps to understand blindness, colour blindness, autism, mental issues, or as seen in the video, just a "simple" migraine.
Rehabilitation and assessment
A small circle of healthcare professionals has been experimenting with virtual reality in brain damage recovery and assessment for quite some time now. The scientific paper CyberPsychology & Behavior published a whole study on using VR in brain damage rehabilitation as early as 2005. These techniques are now getting adopted on a much wider scale.
The military, also well-known for utilising the latest technologies, is now using VR for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rehabilitation, helping soldiers who returned from war zones. It's also being used in psychiatry in exposure therapies, helping patients to overcame their fears. DEEP is using VR as a meditation tool.
The possibilities of using virtual reality in rehabilitation and neurological assessment are endless.
Early detection and the power of virtual reality in changing habits
Virtual reality can be combined with gaming and data visualisation. Vivid Vision is using VR to detect and analyse eye problems like amblyopia and strabismus, through VR vision analysis and simple games. Unello Designs is developing VR tools for stress relief, meditation, relaxation and to help patients overcoming phobias. VR is also used to cure fears like agoraphobia, anxiety or even to help quitting bad habits. And we haven't even started talking about wellness and fitness (check VirZOOM for example), a huge market on its own.
Healthcare is an incredibly exciting field, as both virtual reality and biotechnology are developing in a breathtaking pace. The synergies will profoundly change the whole industry in the upcoming decades.