Headset changes Medical Mindset

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To the majority of us, the advent of space age virtual reality headsets probably meant that within a few years we’d be able to play games killing aliens in bed, without bothering our slumbering better halves.

Not so, according to Doctors at Gran Canaria’s Hospital Perpetuo Socorro who in partnership with the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Spanish software company Droiders have developed a revolutionary style of relaxing patients undergoing surgery by placing them into a calming, simulated virtual environment using the Oculus Rift headset.

Murcia based Paul Gailey, marketing director at Droiders, described the patient’s surgical experience on his twitter account as being, akin to, “Listening to Mozart from a moonlit tropical beach during an operation…” The Oculus shows the patient a vision of a sky, gazing at floating clouds, fireworks, and balloons while listening to various pieces of calming classical music.

Hospital Perpetuo Socorro presented a live stream of the first Oculus Rift surgery on 62-year-old Josefa Ramírez who was having a knee arthroscopy procedure. Josefa had originally opted for general anaesthesia because of her fear of the procedure, but later opted for local anaesthesia when it was demonstrated that the Oculus Rift would lower her anxiety levels. Testing by Droiders showed that the simulation decreases heart rate and blood pressure in the patient.

Dr. Gerardo Garcés, the orthopaedic surgeon, performed the surgery whilst wearing Google Glass. Utilising an app developed by Droiders, medical students at the University were able to watch the surgery live from the surgeon’s point of view. Garcés commented that the technology could be used to allow for remote monitoring and collaboration during surgery, giving doctors the opportunity to watch each other perform surgeries and offer assistance.

With an eye to the future, Facebook snapped up Oculus VR, the makers of the Oculus Rift for the small fortune of $2 billion in March this year.

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