AR/VR Within The Healthcare Segment

Siva Banda, AR/VR Analyst, GrowthEnablerHaving completed his M.Sc in Mathematics from the Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Siva has worked with MEDIA iQ Digital, DeltaX, Tracxn and GrowthEnabler in his six-years long career.

The India AR & VR market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 76 percent over the next six years, (2017 to 2022) and will be driven by a surge in demand from business and consumer sectors. The top industries adopting AR & VR technologies include, education, healthcare, retail, gaming, real estate and automotive. The future for Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality looks promising, as a number of large corporations from multiple verticals are beginning to harness the power of these technologies to improve the customer experience offered by them. Within the Virtual reality space, the high penetration of smart phones coupled with new product launches in this space, for instance Daydream VR from Google has done well to pique consumer interest in this relatively new technology. It is important to note that there are no VR device manufacturers in India, however, there is an increasing list of startups that are building software capabilities that offer platform services to their customers using hardware from global device manufacturers. Healthcare as a segment for adoption of AR and VR technologies is still fairly nascent in India but as the technology matures, global use cases are likely to find increased adoption within the Indian market, making healthcare a promising market for AR/VR in India. Some of the use cases for the adoption of AR/VR technologies are discussed below.

Augmented Reality within the Healthcare Segment:
For both patients and doctors, AR will transform medical and surgical procedures. Currently, monitors are required in operating rooms during surgeries to display vital stats. With AR, the surgeon can wear a headset during the procedure and stay focused on the task at hand with a better analysis of the surgical procedure. Such a technology enabler may minimize mistakes during the operation. AR will be pivotal in transforming how medical students and surgical trainees approach medical tasks, providing an enhanced learning experience. AR will enable doctors to perform less invasive surgeries driven by the
ability to see patient's insides without opening them up. The technology will improve patient aftercare, especially for elder patients, as a digital health assistant for medication reminders. Remote support of live medical procedures by expert doctors, student education with guided annotations on a medical procedure, augmentation of live pictures with notes and medical references to students during training phases are a few of the implications Augmented Reality is set to have in the healthcare industry.

Virtual Reality within the Healthcare Segment:
Health industry is exploring Virtual Reality for solutions tending to multiple challenges and how the tech can improve several medical treatment methods. Virtual Reality is offering:

1. Doctors: the ability to analyze injuries.

2. Medical Students: the opportunity to learn hands-on medical procedures.

3. Patients: a method to quicken their recovery in new and novel ways.

Pain Management:
Currently, there is evidence that VR can help relieve pain for patients. The parts of the brain that are linked to pain ­ the somatosensory cortex and the insula - are less active when a patient is immersed in virtual reality. In some in-stances, it can even help people tolerate medical procedures that are usually very painful. Several studies have been done on benefits of VR therapy on amputees. For example, conventional methods to treat pain in the `phantom limb' have not been promising, neither a treatment with strong painkillers. With the help of VR, a technique called `virtual mirror therapy' involving put-ting a VR headset and controlling the virtual version of the absent limb has shown positive results in helping the patients cope with the pain.

VR can be used to track body movements, which can in turn help allow patients to use the movements of their therapy exercises as interactions in a VR game. In a VR experience, exercising is found to be more fun, inter-active and motivational for the users. Studying how patients perceive and interact with VR systems helps therapy professionals to design better rehabilitation applications.

Cognitive Rehabilitation:
Patients with brain injury from trauma or illness, such as stroke, struggle with everyday tasks such as shopping or making plans for the weekend. VR helps recreate these tasks within virtual environments and allow patients to practice them at increasing levels of complexity to speed up recovery. Doctors can use the virtual environment as even an assessment tool to observe patients carry out a variety of real-world complex tasks and identify areas of memory loss.

Doctor/Nurse Training
Virtual Reality enables for creating suitable virtual training environments for students and professionals for both learning and practice. Medical procedures involve multiple complex tasks such as making incisions, inserting plastic tubes through thin membranes and several other specific operations which require accuracy and speed which are lifesaving when performed correctly. Many medical procedures require practice and repetition in order to save lives. Simulation procedures have been embraced by residency programs and hospital training programs to keep the skills of physicians sharp for rarely per-formed life saving procedures such as cricothyrotomy. VR can aid in creating these tense, real world clinical situations which require rapid thinking and quick analysis for managing critical patients.