When doctors no longer examine the patient through massive incisions, and cadaver training is a thing of the past, medical education looks to virtual reality. Medical professionals immerse themselves in human anatomy in more detail than ever before while the human body once again becomes sacrosanct. The tools already exist.
The trend is clear: new ways are always being discovered in order to shift from open surgeries towards minimally invasive interventions, and endoscopic device companies compete over whose tools require fewer and smaller entry portals. Medical professionals expose less and less of their patients' internal anatomies, and for the better.
Virtual bodies come to the fore as the window to the real-life human body closes to scope-sized holes. A number of medical procedures can already be practiced on virtual reality simulators, and the various tools developed by simulation companies allow a completely new perspective on the world of surgery.
From Marketing Tools to Educational Relevance
Virtual reality is frequently associated with headsets and full immersion, it is what VirtaMed has always worked on: creating realistic interactive 3D scenes to replace the real-life environment of a human body.
Sometimes we are labeled ‘augmented reality’ because of the original tools and realistic anatomical models we use in combination with virtual reality. Whatever the chosen label is, we focus on replacing cadavers and real-life patients with a simulated reality that looks and feels like the real thing.”
Dr. Stefan Tuchschmid, VirtaMed Co-CEO and Co-Founder
VirtaMed decided to do what it does best: create an extremely realistic 3D model of the inside of a human body. The company’s endoscopic simulators featured high-fidelity volumes with realistic physical behavior already, so it was a logical extension to adapt these volumes into the new immersive headset.
Users of the VirtaMed ArthroS™ Knee simulator are transported inside a knee joint using the VirtaMed ArthroS™ Knee Inside View. The user can use various tools to touch and manipulate the tissues and walk around the cavities to locate important landmarks. The module also features a gamified ArthroS™ exercise designed to help learners to navigate the compartments effectively – Catch the stars.
Dr. Tuchschmid says, “Integrating the content that we have already spent years finessing made the technology immediately much more relevant to us: it now has a clear teaching component that fits our existing portfolio,” he explains. “Marketing still loves it, too,” he laughs.
New Perspective on an Old Problem
Every VirtaMed simulator features an ultrasound probe or virtual endoscope which shows a lifelike image on a screen, exactly as it would in the OR. Additionally, the simulators provide an outside view that allows learners to examine the anatomy and the tools from a number of angles in real time, whilst performing a procedure.
“Adding a deeper layer that allows a learner to enter the body part that’s being operated is just the natural next step in the visualization,” VirtaMed Head of Marketing Phil Norris says. “It’s a new perspective on an old teaching problem,” he concludes.
Full immersion has the promise of extremely effective learning: a highly realistic virtual reality environment invites people to use the range of their emotions and senses, making the experience memorable and new.
VirtaMed simulation responds to the learner more than ever, with the capability to slow down and stop time, to reset your patient’s symptoms or status and to replay your actions. Channeling this power in the service of education inspires VirtaMed’s research of the technology.
Yet, despite the media attention and vast potential, immersive virtual reality technology is only one tool in the company’s arsenal. VirtaMed has a great track record in creating bespoke solutions for medical associations and medical device companies, and headset applications are the latest building block available for problem solvers.
We have seen amazing progress when creating deeper and deeper level of immersion in the virtual environment. Now we encourage educators around the world to let us know what educational needs we should consider next.”
Phil Norris, VirtaMed Head of Marketing
With new, improving technology we can have it all: A fully intact human body and a fully accessible anatomy for medical professionals to examine and probe to their hearts’ content.
VirtaMed is a Swiss company that develops & produces highly realistic surgical simulators for medical training. Surgeons use original instruments to train in a safe environment before performing surgeries on patients.
VirtaMed's vision is to improve the quality of medical care with state-of-the-art, virtual reality based medical training and education.
Our mission is to alter the way medical skills are taught.
As a company, we live innovation in a customer-oriented, agile, diverse and passionate work environment.
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