When we think of virtual reality (VR), we tend to think of gaming and entertainment as it is currently the largest VR market and a commercial area that is constantly evolving.
While VR concepts have existed for more than thirty years, it’s only relatively recently that the technology has revealed its potential in a variety of markets such as architecture, manufacturing, training and education.
This is also the case in the healthcare sector where has also been making headway. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (AR) are becoming increasingly utilised in patient rehabilitation and recovery post-accident, surgery or illness, the treatment of mental health issues and the training for, and carrying out, of surgical procedures.
For example, Google Glass can be used in an operating theatre during surgeries for surgeons to be advised on how to proceed while remaining hands-free.
Nevertheless, when it comes to balance exercises and cognitive functions, brain injury assessment or orthopaedic rehabilitation, current VR capability is restricted to single users interacting only with the practitioner.
However, the development of end-to-end, digital development platforms, to further collaboration between stakeholders in the current VR industry infrastructure should change things.
By integrating expertise in virtual reality, additive manufacturing, 3D geometrical form generation, user interface design, user-centred design, electronics design, systems integration and rehabilitation, patients with a disability could practice real-life situations in a controlled, safe environment, aiming to improve physical stamina, capability and cognitive skills.
In the future, VR could become a key tool in patient rehabilitation.