Virtual Reality in Healthcare

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As you might have noticed in my latest blogs about Health (here and here), I’m really interested in the role technology plays in this subject. I feel like there is so much happening there and really exciting discoveries are done. People are combining new technologies with health in a way that’s never been done before. It never could be done, since the necessary technologies simply weren’t invented yet.

This is why I got seriously excited when I saw a post on Reuters about how virtual reality might help with alcoholism. This study is still very much in the research fase, as it has only been tested on 10 patients with alcohol dependence. It involved the patients to go through a week long detox fase, after which they would have virtual reality sessions. Virtual reality sessions, that’s such a futuristic mash of words, isn’t it? Like, thirty years ago, no one would have thought about putting those words together and for them to make sense. Anyway, in these sessions, the patients go through 3 stages: the first to relax, the second to trigger wanting to drink and in the third they were shown the negative effects of alcohol (vomiting, for example). After following this program for five weeks, the participants showed a reduced craving for alcohol.
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I’m not a neuroscientist, so I can’t exactly tell you how this works in your brain. What I can do though, is predicting what this discovery might hold for the future. If it’s true that virtual reality has an influence on your brain and the way you respond to things, this could be of great help not only in alcoholism, but other addictions as well. It would completely change the way we go about detoxing. I’m really curious to see how virtual reality will play a role in healthcare. I think it’s safe to say it’s going to be an important one.

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