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  • Taisiia Dobrozorova

VR in Healthcare and VR Therapy: Unveiling Its Potential in Patient Care

Revolutionizing various sectors, virtual reality (VR) is especially making waves in healthcare, where its use in therapy is redefining rehabilitation processes. Occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, and mental health professionals are embracing VR therapy to enrich and gamify healing experiences for patients dealing with conditions ranging from depression to chronic pain.


VR in Healthcare and VR Therapy
VR in Healthcare and VR Therapy. Source: https://www.softwebsolutions.com/

Evolution of VR in Healthcare


From Niche to Standard The inception of VR dates back to the 1960s, but it wasn't until the mid-80s that the term "virtual reality" emerged. In the 1990s, medical pioneers began exploring VR's potential in mental healthcare, using early headsets to treat psychological disorders such as phobias. Over time, VR found its place in hospitals, aiding in the treatment of conditions like PTSD and enhancing medical imaging processes.


Evolution of VR in Healthcare timeline

The new millennium witnessed an unprecedented surge in VR's adoption, driven by technological advancements and cost reductions. From 2012 to 2017, the VR healthcare market in the United States nearly doubled in size. Now, VR enhances patient outcomes through increased accessibility, progression tracking, and customizable treatment plans.


Companies Shaping the Future of VR Healthcare


A multitude of companies are at the forefront of VR innovation in healthcare, driving advancements that redefine patient experiences and medical practices:


HitBerry Games


Specializing in the development of VR games and applications, HitBerry Games helps to digitize various types of therapeutic procedures, training or other data focused on medicine and health. The company uses all the possibilities of virtual reality to create convenient and effective healthcare apps and games.


Virti


This UK-based company pioneers interactive video simulations to enhance healthcare providers' core skills, boasting partnerships with organizations like the National Health Service.


MyndVR


Specializing in therapeutic VR solutions, MyndVR caters to aging adults, promoting cognitive health and reducing feelings of isolation through immersive experiences.


SimX


Offering a diverse array of training solutions for medical professionals, SimX facilitates collaborative learning experiences in simulated environments.


WAVR


WAVR pioneers non-pharmacological alternatives for minor medical procedures, leveraging VR to mitigate anxiety and enhance patient comfort during treatment.


What Exactly is VR Therapy?


VR therapy embodies a new therapeutic paradigm that uses virtual reality technology to facilitate rehabilitation exercises. Its versatility extends to various areas of therapy, covering occupational, physical, and speech therapy. Designed for different populations, VR therapy caters to people with certain medical conditions, the elderly, veterans, or young children.


VR Therapy
VR Therapy. Source: https://www.rootquotient.com/

For example, VR interventions have proven important in the treatment of conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia, alleviating episodes of sundown, a common neurological phenomenon. MyndVR's Dave Rawlins highlights the potential of VR to distract, meditate and calm patients, possibly replacing conventional pharmacological interventions.


Similarly, in the field of neurological disorders, an interactive VR game develops social skills and peer interaction among young adults and children, demonstrating a personalized approach to treatment.


How Does VR Therapy Differ from Traditional Approaches?


VR therapy stands out for its unparalleled flexibility, customization, and immersion compared to traditional therapy methods. The remote accessibility of VR sessions transcends physical barriers, offering therapy beyond clinic confines. Patrick Murta of BehaVR underscores VR's capacity to address the escalating demand for therapeutic care by providing asynchronous treatment models and circumventing resource limitations.


However, logistical challenges impede VR's widespread adoption, primarily due to the absence of standardized regulations and insurance coverage. Nonetheless, recent FDA approvals, such as AppliedVR's chronic back pain program, signify legislative recognition of VR's therapeutic potential.


Advantages of VR Therapy


  1. Enhanced Accessibility. VR therapy extends treatment reach, especially benefiting individuals with mobility limitations and those embracing remote therapy amid the COVID-19 era.

  2. Immersive Experiences Yield Better Outcomes. VR's immersive nature fosters deeper patient engagement, potentially reducing burnout and enhancing treatment adherence.

  3. Improved Engagement and Motivation. VR therapy exhibits lower dropout rates and heightened patient enthusiasm, accelerating treatment progress and yielding superior outcomes.

  4. Alignment with Value-Based Care Models. VR's goal-oriented approach aligns seamlessly with value-based care models, facilitating outcome-driven reimbursement models.

  5. Cost-Effectiveness and Customization. Unlike conventional treatments, VR software offers endless customization, catering to diverse patient needs and minimizing obsolete equipment concerns.


Unlocking the Potential Across Therapy Domains


  • Occupational Therapy. VR simulations aid in activities of daily living, offering enjoyable and immersive experiences for patients undergoing long-term rehabilitation.

  • Physical Therapy. Engaging in VR exercises enhances treatment adherence, enabling patients to endure longer sessions with reduced pain awareness and increased effort.

  • Mental Health Treatment. VR emerges as an efficient tool in addressing the global mental health crisis, offering scalable solutions with improved patient adherence and outcomes.

  • Pain Management. VR interventions provide a drug-free alternative for chronic pain management, offering immersive experiences that alleviate sensations of pain and enhance physical therapy outcomes.


Looking Ahead: The Future of VR in Healthcare


As VR continues to redefine healthcare paradigms, embracing its transformative potential is paramount for medical institutions and practitioners. By harnessing VR's versatility and immersive capabilities, the healthcare industry can unlock new horizons in training, patient care, and therapeutic interventions, paving the way for a brighter and more accessible future in healthcare delivery.


Partnering for Progress


HitBerry Games collaborates with innovative healthcare entities to advance VR applications, ensuring scalable, compassionate, and high-quality care delivery.


Embark on a transformative journey with VR therapy, reshaping patient care and redefining therapeutic paradigms for a brighter, more accessible future in healthcare! Contact us if you want to create your health and therapy VR app.




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