The fruits of many an unexpected invention accompany us everyday.
The inventions of medical scientists, pioneers and visionaries are responsible for items such as X-Rays, Penciliin, Viagra, Listerine, Propecia, and the Pacemaker to name a few.
It’s a phenomenon not limited to the medical field, take for instance the discovery of Saccharin, Dynamite, Matches, Coca-Cola, and Microwave Ovens.
Indeed technology does not need to be limited to the inventors original intended use for it to become inspiringly useful by enterprising users.
— Droiders (@Droiders) July 14, 2014
Inventors of the technology often understand that it’s the nascent users and developers who will test, experiment, break and fix things in the process of discovering expanded potential of their invention.
Clinical use of Oculus VR
In a non gaming use of Virtual Reality, the Hospital Perpetuo Soccorro last week took the bold step of publicly trialling this gaming technology to appease operative anxiety for a patient under local anaesthic.
While VR is not a substitute for local anaesthetic, in this scenario the patient was greatly assisted by the calming effect of listening to Mozart while being immersed in a super moon lit beachside paradise, gazing up at distant fireworks.
To underline the commitment to new technology, the hospital – which is also combining Doctor’s access to EHR with wearables such as Google Glass – POV streamed the operation through Google’s infamous wearable smart glasses to YouTube.
All while the doctor conducted a knee arthroscopy in the operating theatre with all the inevitable accompanying local environmental stress that typically entails for a patient.
Contrast the stark physical reality of a classic functional hospital ward where we entrust professionals to attend to our health with the comforts of a typical spa where our wellbeing and feel good factor is of paramount importance.
Virtual Reality can go some way to bringing those worlds together and having a positive clinical benefit to the patient.
Clinical Pain Management
According to Fortune, in a collaboration with Stanford’s Department of Anaesthesia, Jeremy Bailenson, director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Virtual Reality technology was used to place children with chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) — a disease characterized by severe pain, swelling, and changes in the skin – in virtual simulations that divert their brains from unpleasant physical therapy and treatment distracting them from processing pain signals.
Such research is by no means recent. The University of Washington Seattle and U.W Harborview Burn Center have been exploring the immersive virtual reality pain distraction since the early 1990’s.
Droiders last week also launched Glassware for dentists (spanish version), where once again the hands free contextual unobtrusive line of sight information, is proving highly beneficial to dental professionals.
In this instance the Oculus VR was not featured for the patient as there are practical issues, however other researchers have shown recently that other Virtual Reality headsets can have a clinical advantage in dentistry.
When technology breaks out of from it’s crowdsourced origins it frequently attracts critiscm from many quarters as witnessed with the recent acquisition of Oculus.
However the promise for VR in healthcare and indeed beyond it’s gaming roots is a compelling one.
After all, rules that are stretched and technology that gains use beyond it’s intended usage is potent.
And yet for all last week’s #notagame I was struck by comments received in private by tech editors in relation to this announcement, declining to cover it.
I’m unsure if that’s Valley nimbyism, a friday sub optimal announcement timing, the fog of football, or if tech reporting decidingly lapses to potato salad level of reporting in some quarters.