Surgeons Took Their Training to the Virtual Space

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  • Some practitioners are using the virtual space to run through their surgeries in preparation for their real-life operations
  • The virtual space also helps in pain management, immersing patients to alleviate physical and emotional discomfort.
  • The cost remains eye-watering.

Surgeons and other healthcare workers are using Meta’s virtual reality (VR) headset, Quest 2, to hone their skills in the virtual space, ultimately improving and diversifying the care available for patients.

For a CNBC piece, Dr. Jake Shine, a third-year orthopedics resident at Kettering Health Dayton in Ohio, demonstrated the application of the VR headset. Before assisting in a major shoulder-replacement surgery, Dr. Shine utilized a Meta Quest 2 VR headset for a 3D simulation of the procedure. This experience enabled him to practice and fine-tune his skills, leading to a successful surgery with no complications. A trial run without the chances of complications.

“You can really fine-tune and learn what to do, but also what definitely not to do, with zero risk to the patient,” Shine told CNBC.

Beyond surgical training, VR headsets have also demonstrated their potential in pain management. By immersing patients in virtual environments, it helps reduce their focus on physical and emotional pain. Institutions like Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles are preparing to launch virtual platforms to assist patients with gastrointestinal issues, anxiety, addiction, and perimenopausal health. Dr. Brennan Spiegel, director of health services research at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, told CNBC that “it’s training people how to modify their spotlight of attention so they can swing it away from the painful experiences. Not just the physical, but the emotional experiences.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has also embraced VR headsets, deploying it at over 160 facilities for pain management, behavioral therapy, and rehabilitation. Patients have reported reduced pain levels after short VR sessions, underscoring the technology’s therapeutic potential.

But now to address the elephant in the room. The costs.

The cost-effectiveness of integrating VR headsets into the broader healthcare industry remains a cause for debate. While Meta, previously known as Facebook, has invested heavily in VR and plans to release the Meta Quest 3 headset, Apple is poised to enter the market with the Vision Pro headset targeting high-end users.

Meta’s upcoming 128GB headset starts at $499.99 USD while Apple’s Vision Pro price starts at $3,499. Not very affordable for an already struggling sector…

Medical schools and residency programs are increasingly integrating VR into their curricula. For instance, at Kettering Health Dayton, VR training has become mandatory for first-year orthopedics residents, with plans to expand its usage throughout the program.

This shift represents a significant departure from traditional medical education methods, which relied heavily on books and lectures.

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