Travancore Analytics

The Expansion of Immersive Therapeutics in Healthcare

September 25th, 2023

Category: ar vr,virtual reality

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Posted by: Team TA

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With better accessibility and affordability, immersive therapeutics has emerged as a groundbreaking approach in healthcare, revolutionizing patient care and treatment outcomes. With an incredible 88% rise in immersive companies over the previous five years, the healthcare industry is the one with the fastest-growing applications for immersive technology, according to a recent analysis from Immersive Economy 2022. By utilizing immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), healthcare professionals are able to create highly realistic and engaging environments that have proven to be effective in managing pain, improving rehabilitation, treating mental health disorders, and enhancing medical training. According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global market for virtual reality in healthcare is projected to reach $6.91 billion by 2026, exhibiting a remarkable compound annual growth rate of 28.2% from 2019 to 2026. These statistics highlight the growing recognition of immersive therapeutics as a transformative tool in healthcare, demonstrating its potential to reshape the future of medical practice.


Immersive Therapeutics: What is it?

Immersive therapeutics is a rapidly developing branch of medicine that uses modern technology such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence to give medical treatment. It involves creating realistic and interactive virtual environments or augmenting the real world with digital information to enhance medical interventions, patient care, rehabilitation, and training. VR environments can distract patients from their pain by immersing them in captivating virtual worlds. For instance, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles implemented VR technology to help burn victims manage their pain during wound care. By wearing VR headsets, patients were transported to soothing, immersive environments, such as snowy landscapes or tranquil beaches, effectively reducing their perception of pain and anxiety.


Moving Forward for Better Healthcare

The significance of immersive therapeutics lies in its ability to offer personalized and immersive experiences that can positively impact patients’ well-being and recovery. Let’s look at four potential ways the metaverse could improve healthcare.

  1.   Enhancing Patient Engagement and Empowerment

By transporting patients to different settings, such as calming natural landscapes or challenging rehabilitation scenarios, AR/VR development technologies engage patient’s senses and enhance their involvement in the therapeutic process. This heightened engagement helps distract patients from pain, anxiety, or discomfort, enabling them to focus on their treatment and recovery.

Furthermore, immersive therapeutics has the potential to empower patients by giving them a sense of control and agency over their healthcare journey. Through interactive experiences and personalized interventions, patients can actively participate in their treatment plans, leading to increased adherence, motivation, and a sense of ownership in their recovery process. For instance, virtual reality (VR) can create simulated environments for patients with anxiety disorders, allowing them to gradually confront and overcome their fears. A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that VR-based exposure therapy significantly reduced anxiety symptoms in phobia patients.

  1.   Pain Management and Rehabilitation

Immersive therapeutics has proven to be highly effective in pain management for patients, offering a non-pharmacological and non-invasive approach. Virtual Reality (VR) technology can create immersive environments that divert patients’ attention from physical discomfort, providing relief and improving their overall well-being. For example, a study published in the Journal of Pain Research demonstrated that VR distraction significantly reduced pain intensity and unpleasantness in burn patients during wound care procedures. Also, VR-based interventions were effective in reducing pain levels and anxiety during various medical procedures, such as venipuncture and dressing changes.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies create immersive environments that facilitate guided rehabilitation exercises and promote functional improvements.  For instance, research published in the Journal of Neuro Engineering and Rehabilitation showed that VR-based therapy significantly improved upper limb motor function in stroke patients compared to conventional therapy. Another study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that VR interventions led to greater improvements in balance and gait among individuals with Parkinson’s disease compared to traditional rehabilitation methods.

  1.   Having your own Personal Digital Twin

A Personal Digital Twin is a virtual representation of an individual that captures their unique physiological, anatomical, and behavioral characteristics. It enables personalized healthcare interventions and treatments tailored to an individual’s specific needs and characteristics. For example, doctors can use a patient’s Personal Digital Twin to simulate and visualize the effects of different treatment options, optimizing care plans and improving treatment outcomes. Immersive therapeutics also enables remote monitoring and telemedicine. Healthcare professionals can virtually enter the patient’s digital environment, assess their condition, and provide guidance or recommendations. This eliminates the need for physical visits in certain cases and improves access to healthcare, especially for individuals in remote areas or with limited mobility.

Furthermore, sensors and wearable devices can collect data and feed it into the Digital Twin, providing insights and personalized recommendations for maintaining optimal health and well-being. In order to assess whether surgery is required or whether it would be too risky for some patients, researchers have created digital twins that imitate heart cells. A digital twin of a person’s entire brain is being created elsewhere as part of the EU-funded Neurotwin project. The virtual model will be used to improve the treatment of neurological conditions including epilepsy.

  1.   Psychological and Mental Health Interventions

Virtual reality can create simulated environments for exposure therapy, enabling patients to confront and gradually overcome their fears and phobias in a controlled setting. This technology can be particularly beneficial for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, or phobias, as it allows therapists to tailor treatment experiences to the specific needs of each patient. For example, gaming can help people with ADHD, according to Akili Interactive, a business that sells prescription digital medications. The business has released EndeavorRX, a first-of-its-kind prescription video game that has been demonstrated to lessen ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) symptoms in kids aged 8 to 12. It is an FDA-cleared, non-drug treatment that needs a doctor’s prescription and was created with the assistance of top neuroscientists and game designers.

Moreover, immersive therapeutics can offer a safe space for mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation exercises. By providing serene virtual environments and guiding individuals through calming experiences, these technologies can help reduce stress, anxiety, and improve overall mental well-being.

Challenges and Future Considerations

While immersive therapeutics holds great promise, several challenges need to be addressed for its widespread adoption. These include cost barriers, technological limitations, ethical considerations, and standardization of protocols. Additionally, ensuring patient safety, data privacy, and the ethical use of these technologies are essential factors that must be carefully managed.

Looking ahead, continued research and development, along with collaboration between healthcare professionals, technologists, and policymakers, will be crucial in harnessing the full potential of immersive therapeutics. As a leading provider of immersive therapeutics solutions, Travancore Analytics strives to revolutionize the healthcare industry with solutions that improve patient care, engagement, and outcomes. Contact us anytime to learn how our expertise can make healthcare better. 

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