VR Used to Simulate Ophthalmoscope Training

From VR Medicine News – A VR-based ophthalmoscopy training system is able to simulate the processes involved in performing eye exams, according to a new report. “The VR ophthalmoscope was developed by a clinical team and technologist using the unity game engine, smartphone and virtual reality headset,” noted the authors, led by AS Wilson, with the School of Computing and Digital Technology, at Birmingham City University, United Kingdom. “It has a series of tasks that include performing systematic eye examinations, identifying common eye pathologies and a knowledge quiz,” they added. According to the researchers, the app was highly rated for all elements of perceived usefulness, ease of use and usability. A total of 15 medical students rated the approach. “Medical students stated that they would like to be taught other medical skills in this way in future,” the authors concluded.

Wilson AS, O’Connor J, Taylor L, Carruthers D. A 3D virtual reality ophthalmoscopy trainer. Clin Teach. 2017 Apr 12. doi: 10.1111/tct.12646.

Potential of VR in Pedestrian Safety Research

A new study has sought to determine the potential of VR for the performance of studies that are limited by cost, difficulty, or danger in the real world. The authors used an immersive, interactive VR environment to test pedestrian safety when crossing intersections. Average walking speed with found to be consistent with real-world norms, and rates of pedestrian collision were measured when a vehicle violated the traffic signal in the VR environment. “Overall, the study results confirm the effectiveness of the new virtual reality technology for research on full motion tasks,” the authors conclude.

Deb S, Carruth DW, Sween R, et al. Efficacy of virtual reality in pedestrian safety research. Appl Ergon. 2017.     Basic Research, General VR

VR Based Exercise Regimen Reduces Pain and Improves Quality of Life in women with Fibromyalgia

A new study has aimed to find out whether a VR-based exercise regimen can provide benefit in women with fibromyalgia. Of 83 patients enrolled, women in the exercise group had significantly improved quality of life when compared to those in the control group. Pain, stiffness and anxiety were all reduced in the exercise group, and these patients expressed an improved mood as well. “This exergame-based training program is an effective intervention for reducing pain and increasing health-related quality of life in women with fibromyalgia,” the authors conclude.

Collado-Mateo D, Dominguez-Muñoz FJ, Adsuar JC, et al. Effects of exergames on quality of life, pain and disease impact in women with Fibromyalgia: A randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2017.

Virtual Reality in the Treatment of Mental Health Disorders

The goal of a new review was to determine the therapeutic potential of VR in mental health disorders. By analyzing data from 285 studies, which studied the role of VR in anxiety (n = 192), schizophrenia (n = 44), substance-related disorders (n = 22) and eating disorders, found that VR provides benefit in anxiety disorders. However, evidence was generally weak, and the term VR was often misused in these studies, with few studies using truly immersive, interactive paradigms. “VR has the potential to transform the assessment, understanding and treatment of mental health problems,” the authors conclude.

Freeman D, Reeve S, Robinson A, et al. Virtual reality in the assessment, understanding, and treatment of mental health disorders. Psychol Med. 2017:1-8. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychological-medicine/article/div-classtitlevirtual-reality-in-the-assessment-understanding-and-treatment-of-mental-health-disordersdiv/A786FC699B11F6A4BB02B6F99DC20237

Virtual Reality Interaction Improves Mood in People With Dementia

A new study sought to determine whether Virtual Reality Forest (VRF) interaction could impact engagement, apathy, and mood states of 10 people with dementia living in an aged cared facility. Participants were found to experience more alertness and pleasure during the VRF interaction; however, fear and anxiety were also increased when compared with a control group. Participants, family members, and staff expressed generally positive opinions about the VRF interaction. “This study suggests virtual reality may have the potential to improve quality of life, and the outcomes can be used to inform the development of future Virtual Reality activities for people with dementia,” the authors conclude.

Moyle W, Jones C, Dwan T, et al. Effectiveness of a Virtual Reality Forest on People With Dementia: A Mixed Methods Pilot Study. Gerontologist. 2017. https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/geront/gnw270/3072156/Effectiveness-of-a-Virtual-Reality-Forest-on?redirectedFrom=fulltext

AR Navigation Assists in Bone Tumor Resection

From VR Medicine News–A new study sought to determine whether AR-based navigation assistance can improve bone tumor resection using a pig femur model system. Out of 133 pig femurs, 82 were used with AR-assistance (164 resections) and 41 with the conventional method (82 resections). The study found a lower mean error (1.71 mm vs 2.64 mm) and improved surgical margin (90.2% vs 70.7%) with the use of AR-assistance compared to the conventional method. The authors assert that this novel AR navigation system is accurate and cost-effective. Whether the AR-assistance improves outcomes has not been determined.

H. S. Cho, Y. K. Park, S. Gupta, C. Yoon, I. Han, H-S. Kim, H. Choi, J. Hong. Augmented reality in bone tumour resection: An experimental study. Bone Joint Res 2017;6:137-143.

VR Decision-Making Simulator Improves Trauma Care

From VR Medicine News–A new study aimed to create a training simulator for Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) using the Oculus™ Gear-VR. To test the simulator, 11 instructors led 18 students in decision making during trauma life support. The group led by instructors performed significantly better, with less fatal errors and incorrect decisions. The participants found the simulation an enjoyable and cost effective means of learning ATLS skills. “We believe that virtual-reality technology is a viable platform for medical-simulation into the future,” the authors conclude.

Harrington CM, Kavanagh DO, Quinlan JF, et al. Development and evaluation of a trauma decision-making simulator in Oculus virtual reality. Am J Surg. 2017.

Using Smartphones to Improve Aneurysm Surgery

From VR Medicine News–A new study aimed to determine if a smartphone can be used to view 3D cerebral angiograms to improve orientation in aneurysm surgery. In this study the smartphone is connected wirelessly to a monitor and is used to control the images viewed therein. The surgeons and operating staff benefited from this method in certain circumstances. Further research is needed to determine if this method provides benefit to the patient. “The implementation is practical, using easily available hardware and software, in most neurosurgical centers worldwide. The method and concept have potential for further development,” the author concludes.

Eftekhar B. Smartphone as a Remote Touchpad to Facilitate Visualization of 3D  Cerebral Angiograms during Aneurysm Surgery. J Neurol Surg A Cent Eur Neurosurg.

VR Simulation Can Help in Training for Cochlear Implant Surgery

From VR Medicine News–A new study sought to determine whether cochlear implant surgery training can be performed using a VR temporal bone simulator. Simulated surgeries were performed by 12 otolaryngology registrars, who received automated feedback on their performance. The participants were found to have improved cochlear surgical skill after engaging in the VR simulation. “The results of the study indicate that VR simulation with automated guidance can effectively be used to train surgeons in complex temporal bone surgeries such as cochlear implantation,” the authors conclude.

Copson B, Wijewickrema S, Zhou Y, et al. Supporting skill acquisition in cochlear implant surgery through virtual reality simulation. Cochlear Implants Int. 2017;18:89-96.

Observing Costly Altruism in a Virtual Environment

From VR Medicine News–A new study sought to determine neuroanatomical correlates of costly altruism using VR technology. Participants were immersed in a virtual environment where another individual was in danger. Those participants who risked their own lives to save the endangered virtual individuals were found to have a larger right anterior insula than those who did not. The same participants were also found to have a higher level of empathetic concern toward the endangered virtual persons. “These findings add to the growing literature showing the role of caring motivation in promoting altruism and prosociality and its neural correlates in the right anterior insula,” the authors conclude.

Patil I, Zanon M, Novembre G, Zangrando N, Chittaro L, Silani G. Neuroanatomical basis of concern-based altruism in virtual environment. Neuropsychologia. 2017;1-10.