Gaming. That’s what VR is all about, just a toy to escape into other worlds right? While VR might have its roots in the gaming industry, it advanced itself into saving lives by educating future doctors. Sheer endless possibilities occur with the digital revolution, vast virtual worlds can be explored so why not use that power to create digital representations of the human body? Layer by layer, fiber by fiber, muscle by muscle. Understanding human anatomy has never been more efficient and engaging!

“It’s like putting a puzzle together”

Grasping the complexity of human anatomy can be though. The digital century is taking over the world, yet medical education seems old-fashioned. There’s great knowledge in books, knowledge that’s limited to 2D visualizations. “Our instructors do an amazing job, but at the same time, it is difficult to get an entire three-dimensional picture of what is going on”, so Jordan Holler, medical student at UC San Francisco.

Normally education in human anatomy uses two sources of information, books and cadavers. Yet it’s sure enough great to deal with real human bodies, they offer a limited amount of things to explore and once a cut is made, there’s no going back.

Touring the body with the usage of VR tackles that exact problem by offering medical students a tool to de- and reconstruct any human body to a molecular level in endless different scenarios and amounts of times.

Removing tissues, adding them back to where they belong, grabbing individual fibers, and analyze them three-dimensionally in real size is just something unique that can’t be recreated with old-fashioned, analog medical education methods.

Combination is key

Digital education offers an endless amount of new possibilities, but why don’t combine the best sides of two worlds?
In a normal environment, medical students use models and cadavers to try various types of surgeries. Virtual reality can of course offer an endless amount of different surgical scenarios, yet there’s one thing students are missing out when using VR: Haptic feedback. That’s where a total virtual experience transforms itself into an augmented reality one by using a combination of models/cadavers and 3d virtual tour service. Real tissue models can be prepared and used as a working base for VR created surgical scenarios. It seems futuristic, but by using this type of combination medical students can simulate and go through endless different types of surgeries without depending on the availability of cadavers.

This does not only improve the experience level of the upcoming doctors, it’s furthermore preparing them on a psychological level as well. Freshman doctors often struggle when they finally can prove themselves on real surgeries, it’s just not something they’re used to, furthermore, nervosity arises, the pressure of failure is unbelievable high causing fatal errors. A virtual medical education combined with old fashioned methods builds experience and confidence in our future lifesavers, by having already simulated almost every possible surgery.

Anatomy is not where the journey ends

As mentioned, psychological preparation is equally important as learning the skills themselves. This begins by simulating specific surgeries, preparing upcoming surgeons on the high pressure arising while saving lives. But preparation doesn’t have to stop there.

Not only the surgery itself but also the doctor’s surroundings have great impacts on how medical care will be performed. With analog educational methods, there has never been the possibility to actually prepare students for upcoming dangerous, non-standard environments. Imagine yourself being a freshman surgeon, motivated to save lives and make the world a little better, your first day arises and you’ll be called to execute an emergency surgery, not in the hospital, on the highway. The bodies are not perfectly prepared, you’re surrounded by sirens, officers and not to forget a lot of driving vehicles. Even though the surgery might be easy to execute, the surroundings are going to drive you crazy if you’re not used to such a specific situation.

The good news is VR is not limited to any standards. You can execute surgeries on the highway, inside a burning house, or even upon the ISS, there are just no limitations. Doctors can be prepared for almost every possible scenario and environment.

So, let’s get “wowed”

There’s an unbelievable beauty in the human body, exploring its particularities is something special and exciting. Yet touring the human body in 3D is not only educating medical students, but it’s also wowing them. The sheer complexity and beauty of every single fiber observed three-dimensional creates enthusiasm and the willingness to question and learn even more about the subtleties of our temple.
Virtual touring has come to a point where it’s not only informing people about buildings and possible getaways. It saves lives now, without extinguishing analog and old fashioned education.

Even though no one should ever experience difficult surgeries, we proudly can calm you down. The surgeon has already done it probably hundreds of times. That’s the power of digitization, that’s the power of VR, that’s what we call future

About Lukas Brugger

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