Virtual reality (VR) is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that people can interact with in a seemingly real or physical way using special electronic equipment. Though I typically think of its impact on the video game world, the possibilities and applications of this technology are seemingly endless.
In fact, according to a recent article in MedCity News, VR is now being used to help train orthopaedic surgeons. Osso VR, a virtual-reality surgical training platform, hopes to change the way surgeons get trained by harnessing the possibilities of VR. The platform delivers realistic interactive surgical training environments that include the latest procedures and technology. According to pediatric orthopaedist and former game developer Justin Barad, co-founder and CEO of Osso VR, teams and individuals can practice and objectively measure their performance without needing a cadaver or putting any patients at risk while they learn. The technology also helps medical device companies help surgeons gain proficiency in a particular procedure or with a specific technology more quickly than otherwise possible.
Barad cites many problems with the way surgeons currently learn new surgical techniques. They often have to travel to remote cadaver courses for the opportunity to practice in a hands-on way. That model leaves few or no options to practice the procedure and become proficient with it. Barad claims that the model offered by Osso VR provides a new way to practice modern surgical techniques in a hands-on way and has the potential to positively impact surgical outcomes.
VR technology is still new, and orthopaedic educators are just starting to figure out how best to integrate it into orthopaedic education. But those details will likely work themselves out as the technology becomes more familiar to members of the orthopaedic community. Regardless, it is an appealing new tool that may help further bridge the gap between abstract book learning and the reality of patient care.
JBJS Social Media & Analytics Specialist