Oculus Rift in Medicine

The ultimate goal of creating virtual reality headset is to provide a full immersion into the virtual reality. So far, the development is continuing, and partial immersion is provided by video and audio feedback. Also, you cannot see yourself in this virtual reality, which of course diminishes the effect. However, with Facebook already in the game, many in the industry suggest that it is just a matter of time until a full immersion is achieved.

This video shows what exactly is currently provided by Oculus Rift:

Another progressive thing about Oculus Rift is that it can be applied not only in the game industry, but in the other fields as well. One of them is medicine. Let’s have a closer look on the issue.

In the area of medical examinations Oculus Rift will provide additional audio and visual feedback, enabling doctors to assess everything much better. Also, it gives an opportunity to use tele-medicine as well. However, interpersonal contact of a doctor and a patient is not excluded, as for the doctor it is always necessary to communicate and examine directly.

Oculus Rift will provide immensely effective possibilities for training and learning. It’s hard to overestimate what profound knowledge can be acquired by medicine students with its help.

Also, doctors are currently researching the possibilities of using Oculus Rift in the treatment of amputees. The thing is that such patients are frequently experiencing phantom pains: “as though their missing limb is still present and even experience itching sensations and the like. By seeing a virtual recreation of that limb, studies have shown that these patients are better able to come to terms with their loss and adapt their brains accordingly.”

Oculus Rift can also prove itself to be useful in the field of surgery. In particular, training simulators are used by surgeons in order to gain practice. Although in this area in America a lot of hospitals have high quality simulators already, which can process 3-D feedback from MRI and CT scans. One of such simulators is da Vinci Surgery, which provides great benefits in accuracy, better view and improved expertness.

Virtual Reality Therapy is already developed at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. Its associate director, Carl Rizzo, comments on the issue of applying Oculus Rift for treating mental disorders:

“Evidence-based treatment for PTSD in the traditional format asks the patient to close their eyes and imagine the kinds of things they’re traumatized by. They imagine it, narrate it in the first person, and usually try to do it in a progressive fashion. The principle of this is real meat and potatoes. The idea is that as you confront the fear memories you’ll feel some anxiety, but in the safety of the clinician’s office. Eventually anxiety tends to extinguish as you become habituated.”
He also adds that there is “nothing magic about virtual reality, it doesn’t fix anybody. It’s simply a tool that a well-trained clinician uses to extend their skills and have more impact on patients when it’s called for.”

There could also be another chance for effective treatment for people with autism. The technology can provide them with greater possibilities of learning and dealing with the real world through the virtual reality. As director of Northwestern University’s Center for Technology and Social Behavior, Justine Cassell, said, Oculus Rift has “an infinite patience”.

So, undoubtedly, a new hope can be given to many patients, if this technology is further developed and applied.