A virtual reality demonstration by NIH’s Clinical Center’s Rehabilitation Medicine Department (National Institutes of Health)
Virtual reality has rapidly moved beyond the gaming world—and into the world of medicine. The ability to simulate experiences expands opportunities for doctors, biomedical researchers, clinicians, and patients in ways previously unattainable. Virtual reality is capable of making people feel as if they have traveled to another place, visualize things that can’t exist in reality, and can be used to improve health care.
Learn about the cutting-edge science and technology of this emerging area of medicine with Susan Persky, director of the Immersive Virtual Environment Testing Area at the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health.
Persky discusses virtual reality’s applications in biomedical research with and for patients, in medical education, and in clinical environments. She explains promising and diverse applications of virtual reality, such as in treatment for PTSD and phobia desensitization; rehabilitation for brain injury; patient assessment and training in conditions like autism; and practical training on complex procedures and difficult clinical conversations for medical students. Persky also covers NIH research into communication and decision-making in patients as they react to simulations of environments that might trigger healthy or unhealthy behaviors.
Although virtual reality can seem like something out of science fiction, the possibilities are virtually limitless in its applications to medicine and health care.
As virtual reality devices become higher in quality and more affordable, their use in medicine will likely become even more widespread. Smithsonian.com reports on how this technology is helping children with severe burns, amputation patients, and people undergoing psychiatric treatment enter a different world—in every sense.