Just how useful is Virtual Reality?

This interesting blog entitled “7 virtual reality technologies that actually work” from the io9.com technology website gave an overview of successful virtual technologies.

The opening gambit was that virtual reality was a ‘colossal disappointment’, but there are some VR technologies that actually work. Including the following:

  • Anxiety therapy – introducing patients into virtual environments to help them cope with anything from post traumatic stress disorder, to phobias, and even nicotine withdrawal.
  • Virtual Reality training simulations – these can be used for counter-terrorism, aviation training and even welding and mining.
  • Multiplayer online gaming.
  • Medical simulations for practicing surgical procedures.

So there are quite a few references to medical procedures and the therapeutic applications of VR. But there was no direct mention of Virtual Patients.

But as Terry Poulton from St George’s University of London explains, virtual patients can do for medicine what flight simulation can to for aviation.

And online multiplayer systems such as Second Life have been used to help teach medical and healthcare students on distance learning courses, as with the PREVIEW project. Second Life has also been used in Australia to provide pharmacy students with virtual work placements.

We feel that the author may have overlooked the use of virtual patients in his overview of virtual reality!

And although VR clearly has a long way to go, there are some very interesting developments in this area. We must remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

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