Virtual Reality to drag medical training “out of the 18th Century”

There is no limit to what virtual reality can do for the training of surgeons and doctors, according to Steve Dann, co founder of Medical Realities, the company that uses VR head-mounted displays, such as the Oculus Rift, to transport trainee surgeons into the operating theatre.

Speaking at the Silicon Valley Comes to the UK’s Health Tech Summit, Dann described how we are only just beginning to uncover what VR technology is capable of, but advances in the technology could have a drastic impact on the health industry.

He and his company aim to use VR technology to “drag the training of surgeons out of the 18th Century”.

The company is waiting for the equipment to advance to the point where VR haptic technology allows users to touch and feel things in their CGI world.

Eventually the equipment being developed by Medical Realities could be used to create a Star Trek-like Kobayashi Maru training exercise.

Dann explained that, using VR, surgical trainees would be able to enter into scenarios where something goes drastically wrong and they have to come up with the best possible solution.

According to figures by the Lancet, the surgical workforce would have to increase by 2.2 million to cover 80% of the world’s needs.

The ability to train new surgeons quickly and in a cost-effective way could save millions of lives.

Technology in action

Featured image courtesy of Medical Realities

However, support for VR as a tool to train students is not universal. In a piece from the Guardian, Angharad Everden, a 23 year-old medical trainee at Cambridge University, said that sessions in the dissecting room put the importance of the career she was studying to undertake into perspective .

“These sessions were demanding and made me reflect on death and dying in a way I hadn’t previously,” she said.

Medical Realities will be showcasing its developing technology at Singularity University’s Exponential Medicine workshops, which begin on November 9.

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