Tuesday March 19, 2019

Virtual Reality Tech Transforming Heart Treatments

However, bulky equipment and low-quality virtual images hindered these developments

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Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality Tech Transforming Heart Treatments. Pixabay

Virtual Reality (VR)-powered head-mounted wearable devices are leading to new developments in cardiovascular treatment and improved outcomes for patients, researchers report.

The VR technology is helping in cardiac care, includes education and training, pre-procedural planning, visualisation during a procedure and rehabilitation in post-stroke patients.

“For years, VR technology promised the ability for physicians to move beyond 2-D screens in order to understand organ anatomy noninvasively,” said Jennifer NA Silva, Assistant Professor at the Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis.

However, bulky equipment and low-quality virtual images hindered these developments.

“Led by the mobile device industry, recent hardware and software developments-such as head mounted displays and advances in display systems-have enabled new classes of 3-D platforms that are transforming clinical cardiology,” Silva added in a paper appearing in the journal JACC: Basic to Translational Science.

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Representational image. Pixabay

VR provides complete control over the wearer’s visual and auditory experience as they interact within a completely synthetic environment, while Augmented Reality (AR) allows the wearer to see their native environment while placing 2-D or 3-D images within it.

Merged reality and Mixed Reality (MR) allow for interaction with digital objects while preserving a sense of presence within the true physical environment.

“These technologies make up the full spectrum of extended reality, which is transforming the practice of cardiovascular medicine,” the researchers noted.

Also Read: Virtual Reality can reduce phantom pain felt by paralysed people

The technology allows patients and family members to better understand their cardiac conditions, helping them to make more informed decisions surrounding their medical care.

Medical students and trainees can better visualise cardiac abnormalities with VR, which allows trainees to simulate operating environments and multiple physicians to interact while viewing the same educational material in a natural environment.

However, the authors said there were still challenges and limitations.

“These technologies are still constrained due to cost, size, weight and power to achieve the highest visual quality, mobility, processing speed and interactivity,” Silva said. (IANS)

Next Story

Immersive VR Can Help Kids Overcome Autism Phobias

In a separate study, published in the Autism in Adulthood journal by the same team, the VR treatment was shown to be effective in autistic adults

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Virtual Reality
A hospital patient uses virtual reality treatment for pain in this undated photo. VOA

Exposing children and adults with autism to immersive virtual reality (VR) can help alleviate their fears and phobias, say researchers.

A team from the UK’s Newcastle University developed ‘Blue Room’, a virtual environment, which requires no goggles. Here a person can comfortably investigate and navigate through various scenarios working with a therapist using iPad controls but remain in full control of the situation.

“For many children and their families, anxiety can rule their lives as they try to avoid the situations which can trigger their child’s fears or phobias,” said Professor Jeremy Parr from Newcastle’s Institute of Neuroscience.

“To be able to offer a treatment that works, and see the children do so well, offers hope to families who have very few treatment options for anxiety available to them,” Parr added.

Autism can affect a child’s learning and development, often resulting in impaired social and communication skills and many also have fears or phobias which can be very distressing but are often overlooked.

Inventions
Toybox founder Arlene Mulder views a project that their tech innovation hub was involved in, a Virtual Reality exhibition at a Johannesburg art gallery. VOA

For the study, detailed in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the team involved a small group of children with autism aged 8-14 years. Half received treatment in the ‘Blue Room’ straight away and half acted as a control group, receiving delayed treatment six months later.

“People with autism can find imagining a scene difficult which is why the ‘Blue Room’ is so well-received. We are providing the feared situation in a controlled way through VR and we are sitting alongside them to help them learn how to manage their fears,” explained Morag Maskey, researcher from Newcastle.

Also Read- AI Helping Differently-abled to Become More Independent: Microsoft

The results showed that overall 40 per cent of children treated showed improvement at two weeks, and 45 per cent at six months.

In a separate study, published in the Autism in Adulthood journal by the same team, the VR treatment was shown to be effective in autistic adults. (IANS)