Standalone VR could be a game-changing technology for the medical industry.
The Oculus Quest is a near-perfect combination of the Oculus Rift’s powerful 6DoF tracking and the Oculus Go’s comfort and portability. This blend of quality and convenience has the potential to open up a wide range of new possibilities for a variety of critical industries and fields of study.
Two forward-thinking organizations, Karuna Labs and Osso VR, have already begun harnessing the advantages of tetherless VR, employing the Oculus Quest as a new tool in both pain management treatment and surgical training.
Inside the Karuna Labs pain management experience // Image Credit: Karuna Labs
Founded in 2016, Karuna Labs has been using VR technology for years to provide personalized chronic pain management programs for patients suffering from chronic pain in their lower and upper limbs, neck, and lower back that’s neither invasive or pharmacological. Composed of a team of neuroscientists, pain medicine doctors, physical therapists, and healthcare IT experts, the company offers both an in-home solution, Karuna Home, as well as a more advanced clinic-based option, Karuna Pro.
“When the body experiences damage or injury, the brain controls how it’s perceived and transmits pain signals throughout the body,” explains the company in an official release. “These signals form pathways. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize and form new pathways. This process is key to reshaping the pain experience by rewiring it to perceive pain and the movement associated with it as non-threatening.”
“Over time, this learning process slowly returns the neurons to normal and pain diminishes. Karuna’s software uses virtual reality to create neuroplastic changes by placing the patient in an environment where they increase movement while blocking pain signals.”
Osso VR medical training in action // Image Credit: Osso VR
While Karuna VR specializes in providing services to the patients themselves, Osso VR focuses on providing support to the medical professionals who assist them. By offering surgeons in-training a virtual space in which to practice true-to-life surgical procedures, Osso VR has created a cost-effective alternative to the expensive and highly-limited training opportunities currently offered.
Users participating in the program are given hands-on time with all the tools they’ll need to master before entering the ER, and introduces them to the many concepts and scenarios they’ll be faced with throughout their time behind the knife.
A surgeon in-training gets some ‘hands-on’ time in VR // Image Credit: Osso VR
Developed in collaboration with clinical, medical device and technology experts from Harvard, John Hopkins, Microsoft, and several other major institutions, Osso VR is currently providing VR surgical training to Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Columbia University, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Harvard Medical School, and Hospital for Special Surgery, just to name a few.
With the arrival of the Oculus Quest, both Karuna Labs and Osso VR now have a far more convenient alternative to PC VR, allowing them to access even more clinics and students. Cost-effective VR simulations using 6DoF standalone VR could very well be the technology that puts VR medical training on the map.
As previously stated, both Karuna Labs and Osso VR have been working with Quest dev kits and will launch their respective modules on the standalone headset in the near future.