Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Health and Virtual Reality

April 16, 2021 · No Comments · Uncategorized

We live in an era where technology is advancing at a breakneck pace. It has advanced many fields and has opened up various opportunities in our country and the world. Virtual Reality technology (VR), has introduced many disciplines to a new, modern way to advance their missions and engage with their audiences. In my opinion, the public health field is not as technologically advanced as other fields are, and this is due to a lack of funding among other reasons. Many individuals believe that this VR technology can only be used for gaming and entertainment, but it could be used in healthcare and education.

Virtual reality is the presentation of a user interface in 3D. While monitors and TV screens only allow a limited 3D experience, virtual reality can be a 360-degree immersive experience, where computer generated graphics help create things as close to reality as possible. It uses a combination of hardware and software that creates the environment that individuals wish to be a part of. The headgear covers the person’s field of vision as they turn their head to provide a 360-degee view, while the computer graphics create images that are “lifelike”. Currently, virtual reality technology has been advertised and used mainly within the gaming and entertainment industry. It is also being used currently to train surgeons, simulate military experiences, and allow students to interact with each other. Unfortunately, the price of these headsets is high for at home use, but there are companies that allow you to rent the systems.

There are many ways that companies across many disciplines can use virtual reality aside from entertainment. The health industry currently is study ways it can be used to treat chronic pain, and lower drug use to manage lower back pain. If VR technology is a solution to manage this issue, it can be a successful way to lower opioid prescribing across the country. The Coronavirus pandemic has also increased the use of virtual doctor visits that could eventually use VR technology as well.

Virtual Reality technology has been used mainly to educate doctors and patients in the health field. Some hospital systems are using the simulations provided by VR technology to help doctors understand and empathize with their patients. “It can be challenging for doctors to feel what it’s like to have dementia, or what it’s like to be a family member taking care of someone with Parkinson’s disease or to have a migraine headache,”Dr. Spiegel says. “All of these examples can be simulated in VR to help doctors better understand what their patients are going through.” . Through these experiences, doctors can be more engaged with their patients’ needs and better understand their health situation. The same simulations can be ran on the patients to help educate and prevent disease. There are programs available where participants watch a VR video on a mobile phone that shows high risk health effects on the human body. Experiencing these problems through virtual reality can help motivate patients to make long term changes in their lifestyle.

Virtual reality is an interesting technological advancement, that can be used to further the health field in many ways. As our country and the world moves forward post-pandemic, I truly hope to see its use to treat illness and health problems, as well as educate individuals.




Online, F. E. (2020, April 26). Techsplained: What is virtual reality and how does it work. The Financial Express.

VR and the future of healthcare. (n.d.).

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