Posts Tagged AR
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are still at an early stage, but both could have significant benefits for the NHS.
Healthcare organisations could be spending as much as $5bn globally on AR and VR by 2025 according to one prediction, with potential applications ranging from surgical simulation and diagnostic imaging to patient care and rehabilitation. VR headsets — like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive — offer a fully immersive experience while AR headsets — like Microsoft HoloLens or Magic Leap — allow you to overlay virtual objects onto the real world to create a mixed-reality experience. Both options are being explored by doctors around the world.
And while countries with private healthcare systems are leading the way in VR adoption, countries dominated by publicly-funded healthcare are also exploring these technologies.
Surgeons in Poland have already demonstrated how Google Glass could be used to help plan heart procedures, and now NHS clinicians are following suit. Microsoft’s HoloLens has been used to help surgeons plan operations: for example, surgeons at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool hope to use it to visualise patients’ scans during procedures, while three surgeons in three separate UK hospitals have used it for bowel cancer surgery.
A team of surgeons at Queen Mary’s Hospital have also been experimenting with wearing HoloLens headsets during surgery, overlaying a map of the patient’s anatomy — showing the path of blood vessels and the course of muscle groups — onto them during surgery. The map is created using CT scans of the patient, and allows the surgeons to navigate away from important structures during surgery. “There’s a lot of activity in this area now these types of devices are readily and commercially available,” says Philip Pratt, research fellow in the department of Surgery & Cancer at Imperial College London.
For example, surgeons who can visualise anatomy using the headsets can more easily avoid sensitive structures when making incisions, potentially reducing the time it takes for the patient to heal and therefore the time they spend in hospital, and similarly reduce the need for any secondary or corrective surgery.
Training up future doctors could also be a growth area for VR. While universities, rather than the NHS, are charged with training medical students, the vast majority of graduates from UK medical schools will go on to work in the NHS, and so their degrees are designed to fit the needs of the health service. Once qualified, junior doctors still receive significant amounts of training within their NHS hospital placements too.
There are already a handful of proof-of-concept anatomy teaching modules that use AR. One medical school in the US is planning to do away with its anatomy lab altogether in favour of using HoloLens.
And for junior doctors — those undertaking training in a medical speciality such as general surgery, psychiatry, or respiratory medicine — VR is likely to have an even greater role in their future training, helping them learn how to perform new procedures in a virtual hospital and even experience them from the patient’s point of view to help improve their communication skills. NASA has even considered using AR headsets to help astronauts conduct medical examinations aboard the International Space Station.
VR and AR won’t just be doctors’ tools, however: early experiments are showing that patients too could be seeing more virtual reality headsets in their future.
Companies like Oxford VR have been trialling the use of VR technology to help mental health patients. The University of Oxford spinout has been using simulated environments and a virtual coach to help people tackle their fear of heights.
The National Institute of Health Research is funding Oxford VR to the tune of £4m to develop a VR therapy package for patients with psychosis; it is also working on a package for young people with social anxiety. Commercial VR headsets are combined with custom software to create virtual versions of the environments that patients would typically find difficult, allowing them to explore those situations safely and, eventually, become comfortable with them. The NIHR said it believes the funding will help create a VR product that will be taken up by the NHS.
VR therapy has also been tested at King’s College and the South London and Maudsley trustfor improving auditory hallucinations in people with schizophrenia, and to help families affected by the Grenfell fire.
There have also been signs that virtual reality could be used for neurological, as well as psychiatric, conditions. Traumatic brain injury can leave people severely disabled, and can require intensive rehabilitation before they’re able to perform their day-to-day activities unassisted. It’s thought VR could be used for both assessing and treating traumatic brain injury. For example, avatars in VR have been used to assess patients’ higher brain functions or detect cognitive problems, while virtual kitchens have helped healthcare professionals assess how people with traumatic brain injury can undertake normal daily activities. VR has also been used to improve balance or attention after traumatic brain injury.
SEE: Executive’s guide to the business value of VR and AR (free ebook)
For now, however, most use of VR as a treatment tool is very much in the pilot stage, offered to relatively few people; larger trials with hundreds of participants would be needed before it would be possible to assess the benefits of such treatments for the population as a whole.
It’s worth remembering that even outside of the healthcare space VR and AR are at an early stage; the hardware is still cumbersome, the applications still evolving, and the pricing still way too high. As the general market evolves, ways to apply the technology to the NHS may become clearer. Sectors such as retail, for example, where spending on new technology is less constrained, will potentially act as examples of how the technology can be used in the healthcare.
“When I see AR or VR in the retail environment, I think it’s almost desensitising some of the use cases that the NHS can then take a more bold step towards,” Andrew Finlayson, managing director of Accenture Interactive, told ZDNet.
“I do think the more that gaming and those techniques are becoming popular, the more that those companies will make their technologies more accessible to the wider populace, and they will either drop the price or they will subsidise the headsets — make them cheaper so they can sell more games, or telecoms or media. I think gaming is bringing down some of the cost and accessibility that would allow more virtual and augmented reality [in the NHS].”
The success of AR and VR has been just around the corner for decades, but if the most recent crop of headsets proved a success with consumers and business, expect to see a lot more use of such technologies in the NHS in the near future.
– Healthcare organizations are considering new technology as innovative IT infrastructure tools make themselves available. Healthcare virtual reality (VR) is no exception and as its medical uses grow, more providers are considering it as part of their digital transformation.
The healthcare virtual reality is expected to grow at a CAGR of 54.5 percent through 2023, according to a recent Research and Markets report.
While the initial uses of VR in healthcare may not be immediately apparent, its applications can be spread through many facets in healthcare including surgery, education, pain management, rehabilitation, and therapy.
VR and closely related augmented reality (AR) technology are quickly progressing through the healthcare industry. A Kalorama Information report released late last year indicated that while healthcare organizations have not had the need or budget for VR, that view is beginning to change.
The Kalorama report discovered that the most effective use of VR and AR is in surgical settings to assist surgeons. The technology can give surgeons better precision and also help enhance robot-assisted surgery. Using technology this way can reduce the risk of patient harm through medical error which is currently one of the leading causes of death in the US.
“Augmented reality or ‘mixed reality,’ integrates, injects or superimposes virtual elements and visualizations over the real world,” Kalorama report authors explained. “Via virtual reality in healthcare applications, VR technology is able to produce VEs such as an operating room, surgical site, patient anatomy, or therapeutic simulation.”
The report qualified VR and AR applications based on their ability to manipulate medical imaging data or other inputs to generate virtual environments or overlay virtual elements over the user’s sight.
VR and AR in surgery are closely tied with surgical navigation and robot-assisted surgery. Organizations hope to eventually embrace virtual and augmented reality to help surgeons work more quickly and accurately, and eliminate potential human error during surgery.
The technology is not meant to replace surgeons;
, it’s meant to provide them with more accurate information and visuals to help doctors make faster and more accurate decisions.
Medical education is another practical application of VR and AR in healthcare. Realistic surgical simulators can better prepare student surgeons for operating on actual patients by providing realistic views of surgical situations.
The report, Augmented Reality in Healthcare Education, said that there are many challenges in healthcare education and augmented reality can provide learning opportunities where “virtual learning experiences can be embedded in a real physical context.”
The Augmented Reality in Healthcare Education study found that 96 percent of the material studied claimed that AR is useful for improving healthcare education. The material outlined benefits of educational AR to include decreased amount of practice, reduced failure rate, improved performance accuracy, accelerated learning, and better understanding of special relationships.
VR and AR also have many patient facing uses as well for pain management, therapy, and can even be used to reduce fear in patients.
VR can be used for patient care and help patients gain a better understanding of their health. By showing the patient a virtual tour of their medical condition, such as a gastrointestinal test, she can better understand her medical condition.
Another example is controlling the environment to manipulate how a patient views something. For example the hematology clinic at Nationwide Children’s Hospital uses VR to put patients in a calming or entertaining environment while they undergo painful needle pricks and other treatment.
VR can also be used to put patients into a fearful environment to overcome it for therapeutic purposes.
VR and AR are complex technologies but are proving their worth in a healthcare setting. Visually enhancing clinician and patient experiences can significantly improve outcomes and both patient and clinician satisfaction.
Background and Objective. Advances in technology are providing new forms of human–computer interaction. The current study examined one form of human–computer interaction, augmented reality (AR), whereby subjects train in the real-world workspace with virtual objects projected by the computer. Motor performances were compared with those obtained while subjects used a traditional human–computer interaction, that is, a personal computer (PC) with a mouse.
Methods. Patients used goal-directed arm movements to play AR and PC versions of the Fruit Ninja video game. The 2 versions required the same arm movements to control the game but had different cognitive demands. With AR, the game was projected onto the desktop, where subjects viewed the game plus their arm movements simultaneously, in the same visual coordinate space. In the PC version, subjects used the same arm movements but viewed the game by looking up at a computer monitor.
Results. Among 18 patients with chronic hemiparesis after stroke, the AR game was associated with 21% higher game scores (P = .0001), 19% faster reaching times (P = .0001), and 15% less movement variability (P = .0068), as compared to the PC game. Correlations between game score and arm motor status were stronger with the AR version.
Conclusions. Motor performances during the AR game were superior to those during the PC game. This result is due in part to the greater cognitive demands imposed by the PC game, a feature problematic for some patients but clinically useful for others. Mode of human–computer interface influences rehabilitation therapy demands and can be individualized for patients.
Introduction: Virtual Reality (VR) has been found useful for numerous rehabilitation applications, but has some intrinsic constraints such as the need for a visuospatial transformation when guiding movements. Augmented Reality (AR) is a new approach to human-computer interaction that enables patients to interact directly with virtual objects. The current study compared AR and VR in a stroke rehabilitation setting.
METHODS: The Fruit Ninja game simulates a rehab setting by having subjects perform repeated goal-directed wrist/hand reaching tasks. Subjects held a cup-shaped color-marker in the paretic hand, then reached for a virtual fruit target that sliced in 2 when reached. This game was implemented in both AR and VR settings, with identical movement demands across the two. The target plus real-time visual feedback on hand movements were provided by a computer monitor in VR, and by a projection onto a tabletop in AR. After undergoing baseline assessments (arm motor Fugl-Meyer scale (FMA) and Box and Blocks (B&B)), 10 patients with hemiparetic stroke >6 mo prior and age >18 yr played three 1-min rounds each of the AR and VR games; 4 other subjects who were unable to hold the color-marker object were excluded from current analysis.
RESULTS: Of the 10 patients, age = 59±10 yr (mean±SD), FMA score = 57±11 (range 31-66), Hand/Wrist FMA subscore = 22±3 (range 15-24), and B&B score = 41±13 (range 16-58). When playing the exact same Fruit Ninja game, all 10 patients scored significantly (p<0.0001) higher in the AR setting (60±9 targets, range 48-78) as compared to the VR setting (48±8 targets, range 37-64 setting. Also, AR scores were stronger correlates of FM Hand/Wrist (rho=0.68, p<0.04) and B&B scores (rho=0.70, p<0.03) than were VR scores.
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows promising results with use of Augmented Reality in a patient-computer interface. Results also suggest advantages as compared to use of a Virtual Reality approach, possibly due to the fact that moving the hand requires a visuospatial transform in the VR setting but not in the AR setting. Compared to VR, AR scores were higher and correlated better with clinical scores, suggesting great potential for the use of Augmented Reality in a patient-computer interface during stroke rehabilitation.