Virtual Reality: How Patients, Doctors and Athletes Will Be Educated


Virtual reality is just about to hit the inflection point.

Soon, nearly everyone will have a VR device, or use one regularly. The well of content is rising, and the cost is dropping; only the execution of the various applications is limiting exponential growth. In almost every educational setting–whether it’s teacher to student, coach to athlete, or doctor to patient– the experience can be vastly improved by this new tool. Here are a few examples.

Through VR, patients can preoperatively experience the surgical center, the recovery process and their rehabilitation exercises. Not only can instruction on post-operative gait training and range of motion be given; the patient can actually do the exercises under the virtual guidance of the physical therapist. When combined with wireless activity trackers (e.g., Fitbits), evaluation of the patient’s outcome–let’s say, range of motion after a total knee replacement–can be actively demonstrated, scored and reported without the patient leaving home. Problems can then be red-flagged to the doctors’ office, activating early interventions.

Truly valid outcome scores for surgeons and implants will then be possible. Patients will compare their post-procedural progress to their surgeon’s previous patients, and even check their scores against a national database of patients who are in similar physical therapy recovery processes. All of this data will be measured and collected in virtual reality PT sessions, then uploaded or accessed on your smartphone–which will be connected to a VR headset.

Surgeon training films and videos have traditionally been visual; now they will become tactile. Feedback devices which increase and decrease resistance (depending on the density of the virtual tissue) will provide the “touch” training long missing in the teaching of new doctors (or in teaching old doctors new tricks). Not only can a potential surgeon’s dexterity be trained and measured; the skills sets —> Read More