The endless applications of virtual reality tech
In a similar way, VR has made meditation a more viable way to ease anxiety. In a new game for the Oculus Rift called DEEP, users get the opportunity to explore the depths of an underwater world using only their breath as a means of navigation. The makers of the game took ancient yoga breathing techniques and incorporated them into the VR based app, which uses biofeedback to track the user’s progress. For the 40 million Americans who suffer from anxiety, games and apps like this can help ease tension and stress without a prescription or a visit to the doctor’s office.
Before VR, it was difficult for medical institutions to accurately construct situations that could foster the necessary means needed to treat patients who suffer from anxiety and fear. The progress VR has made within exposure therapy and meditation is leading to outcomes that have been said to work better than medication and previous alternatives.
Distraction therapy is another field being heavily influenced by VR. Many patients who suffer from severe burns or skin conditions have a difficulty dealing with wound care and physical therapy. The VR game SnowWorld, is a tool that healthcare professionals are using to treat burn victims working through physical therapy. The software is designed to distract patients from their wounds and foster a safe and unintrusive way to deal with their pain. A study conducted in 2011 showed that many soldiers responded better to SnowWorld than doses of Morphine.
VR is also playing a vital role in patients who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI). Physicians have historically struggled with cases where patients have reduced levels of brain activity in sensory, motor and attention functions. With the aid of VR, however, these patients are able to interact with the environment in ways they could not before. This allows physicians to document their sequencing and behavioral organization and ultimately it helps them foster more effective mental rehabilitation.
The way medical professionals train, treat and diagnose patients with mental phobias, neurological disorders, fears, depression and anxiety is completely evolving. Although there are only a few current conclusive studies, the medical industry is implementing VR on a broad spectrum. Over the next few years, the technology will continue to advance and the data from studies will become more available and transparent. For now, the medical industry is just entering a virtual transitional phase that is sure to dramatically change certain modalities of the healthcare system forever.