Virtual reality prepares surgical residents for trauma care

Ohio University is using virtual reality as a training tool for surgical residents preparing for their first days of trauma care.

Through a new Immersive Media Initiative, a team of researchers at Ohio University filmed trauma scenarios using special cameras and microphones to capture a 360-degree experience, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Using a virtual reality headset, residents are thrust into a trauma bay to observe emergency physicians and nurses treating a car crash victim.

The dean of another Ohio institution, Case Western Reserve University, has previously said virtual reality and holograms are “arguably the most exciting technology in medical education on the horizon today.”

Residents say the technology provides a realistic experience and an opportunity to understand the role of each medical team member. Although there are just three scenarios so far, physician leaders at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center told the Dispatch that the technology could have a much broader impact within the emergency department and other areas of the hospital like the ICU.

“The goal eventually is to have hundreds of patients to teach different scenarios, like, ‘This is what a gunshot victim looks like,’ ‘This is what a stabbing looks like,’ ‘This is what a car accident looks like,’” said Thanh Nguyen, M.D., a trauma surgeon at Grant Medical Center.

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Physicians have pointed to the promise of virtual reality in helping patients cope with pain or stress management. Other technology leaders have said VR could also change the way surgeons practice complicated procedures.