Virtual reality: is it only for entertainment? For some years now, the media has been talking about large companies’ commitment to technology and virtual reality, such as Meta, or the video game sector. However, virtual reality in veterinary medicine can also have many uses, despite being a very new discipline.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is a computer system that generates representations of reality, according to the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. In order to use it, it’s necessary to use a specific virtual reality system (with glasses and commands) to create a totally immersive experience.
Another closely related term is augmented reality, which is also used in some fields of veterinary medicine, such as training. Augmented reality consists of combining a live real-world image with an image generated in virtual space via a mobile device.
Although these two terms have become well-known in the entertainment or marketing sectors, many other technical or medical sectors have started to use them to improve their procedures. Among them is human and veterinary medicine.
Uses of Virtual Reality in Veterinary Medicine
In the case of veterinary medicine, the use of virtual reality is still anecdotal, and is mainly used in educational centres.
Through this technology and thanks to the scenarios that are created through 3D models, veterinary students can study the anatomy of patients in a much more precise way. It’s also possible to reduce the use of animal carcasses used in education. In recent years (the last 2 decades) the way that anatomy is studied has changed and three-dimensional models are now prioritised.
However, there are many more applications in the field of human medicine, both for professionals and for patients. For example, virtual reality makes it possible to practice a surgery before doing it in reality, with an exact model based on the patient’s physiognomy.
Virtual Reality is also used for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Through this technology, they can train cognitive competence to mitigate the effects of the disease. It’s also used for patients who need to overcome a phobia (source: SECO).
A Technology That Is Just Beginning
Although virtual reality does not yet have a major effect in veterinary medicine, it’s starting to become relevant in the field of human medicine and is very likely to become more relevant in the coming years.
On the other hand, augmented reality has more and more uses, such as the direct projection of ultrasound scans on the patient. What will be the evolution of this technology in the near future?