How Is VR Used In Medical Training?

Virtual reality

New methods of medical training based on VR technology help students reduce the number of mistakes and get prepared better for real-life cases. In this article, you will discover the modern applications of VR in medical education, and how this technology can help educate students better.

4 Ways to Use VR in Medical Training

Medical training has long relied heavily on traditional methods, such as using manikins as the primary simulation tool. However, over the last few years — aided by the onset of COVID-19 — there’s been an unprecedented shift towards remote learning in medicine. This shift has brought groundbreaking tools like virtual reality (VR) simulations that have transformed how healthcare professionals learn essential skills.

VR’s immersive digital environment allows trainees to practice procedures on human-like models or respond effectively to critical clinical situations. As an innovative solution, VR is changing medical education and paving the way for a brighter future in healthcare.

In medical training, VR finds extensive applications across several domains. One such area is surgical training, where VR enables aspiring surgeons to practice complex procedures in a safe and controlled environment. This immersive experience allows trainees to refine their techniques, improve precision, and familiarize themselves with the intricacies of various surgical interventions.

VR has proven invaluable in medical simulations for emergency response training. From high-pressure scenarios like resuscitation simulations to managing critical situations, VR allows trainees to develop critical thinking, decision-making skills, and teamwork under realistic conditions. By harnessing the power of immersive technology, medical education can evolve to new heights, empowering future healthcare professionals with enhanced proficiency and confidence.

Traditional Medical Training 

Manikin simulations have been used for medical training since the early 20th century. The life-size manikins present high-fidelity models of human bodies, which serve critical roles in medical education/training settings. These safe replicas enable students to learn complex procedures, including intubation, CPR, and suturing, with precision while building confidence. 

Different types of specialized manikin simulations equip learners with specific skills ranging from childbirth to surgery. Technological breakthroughs such as virtual reality (VR) & augmented reality(AR) simulators provide real human experiences for learners to expand their skills & knowledge base. Other advanced technologies, like the one used in VitalsBridge, are being used to simulate vital signs and allow these signals to be shown on an accurate clinical patient monitor. 

This allows medical trainees to apply their theoretical knowledge hands-on. Depending on the hardware model, displayed data can include oxygen saturation, invasive and non-invasive blood pressure measurements, heart rate, temperature, respiration, and more. VitalsBridge also has a free mobile app.

There’s a growing trend toward incorporating manikins, VR, and AR in medical training. Leveraging these technologies helps to better prepare students for the complexities of real-life medical situations.

New World: VR Simulation Training

Virtual reality (VR) technology creates a fully immersive environment that simulates an alternate reality, providing users with an extraordinary sensory experience. Medical professionals can harness this exceptional technology to design authentic simulations of clinical settings for training purposes.

virtual training

There are three main types of VR simulation training:

  1. VR simulation environments are created on the screen of a computer or telephone. Students can use such displays to hone their basic skills. 
  2. 360-degree videos are immersive videos with multiple points of view. They can be used to train students in procedures that require them to visualize the environment from different perspectives, such as surgery or childbirth.
  3. Interactive simulations are VR environments that allow users to interact with the virtual world. They can be used to practice more complex skills, such as laparoscopic surgery or emergency medicine.

VR Simulation Training: 4 Areas of Use

Virtual Reality (VR) simulation training is an excellent platform for healthcare students aiming to bolster their expertise with safer practices. This approach provides them with hands-on exposure to vital procedures while reducing risks inherent in traditional training models. 

Increased adoption of VR technology across healthcare brings newer possibilities towards enhanced medical curriculums, shaping aspiring graduates’ potential into competent professionals.

Surgery Education

Virtual reality has transformed surgeons’ training, offering a unique opportunity to repeat experiences, practice techniques, and learn from risk-free mistakes. One notable example is the use of VR surgery simulations with haptic gloves. This technology enables surgeons to immerse themselves in simulated surgical procedures, replicating precise hand movements and providing a realistic experience akin to actual surgery. Surgeons can enhance their skills and proficiency by building muscle memory and refining their techniques.

Emergency Training

Emergencies require swift and accurate intervention from healthcare professionals, often under high-pressure circumstances. VR simulations provide a valuable training tool for teaching students how to act quickly and effectively in stressful situations.

For instance, Florida’s EMS Section utilizes VR headsets to train responders in handling pediatric emergencies. This immersive training enables them to practice critical decision-making, communication, and life-saving procedures in a realistic virtual environment.

Diabetes Healthcare Improvement

To enhance diabetes care, the NHS introduced virtual reality training for doctors and nurses. Developed by Oxford Medical Simulation and led by Dr. Partha Kar of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, this VR experience helps non-specialist clinicians respond appropriately to potential emergencies related to diabetes. 

The training sessions record and assess participants’ actions in each scenario, ensuring they acquire the necessary skills to manage potentially life-threatening situations more effectively.

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Working with Medical Equipment

Proficiency in using medical equipment is essential for healthcare professionals. VR offers a safe and immersive platform for students, interns, and doctors to practice using various medical devices. 

For example, VR apps simulate dialysis machines, allowing users to train on this specific equipment used in kidney treatment. Trainees can perform procedures and familiarize themselves with the equipment until they achieve mastery, minimizing the risk of errors when working with patients.

Can VR Fully Replace Traditional Methods of Medical Training?

Throughout modern history, utilizing manikins has proven to be an efficient and enduring way of training within medicine. While there is potential for virtual reality (VR), it does not serve to supplant traditional methods entirely. Instead, a blended approach that combines VR simulations with manikin training yields superior results for medical students.

Moreover, blending VR with traditional methods has practical benefits. It reduces wear and tear on manikins, prolonging their lifespan and reducing the need for frequent replacements. This ultimately saves costs for educational institutions and ensures that manikins remain available for training.

In conclusion, while VR shows great potential in medical training, it is not poised to replace traditional methods like manikins fully. Blending VR simulations and traditional manikin training offers medical students a comprehensive and practical approach. This combination allows for gradual skill development, fewer initial mistakes, and reduces the strain on physical training resources. By leveraging both technologies, medical education can harness the strengths of each to provide students with optimal learning outcomes.