Haptic Touch Virtual Reality Enhances Surgical Training

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Medical centers may soon be able to offer more extensive training to more students and surgeons without added cost or resources using virtual reality.

Virtual reality (VR) is increasingly being used for training in many fields, including engineering, manufacturing, the equipment service industry, and more. One interesting and emerging application is in surgical training.

FundamentalVR’s company recently showcased a haptic touch element within the VR environment. The company hopes to deliver the same realism as traditional training with cadavers at a smaller cost and footprint.

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Touch-based virtual reality training

The system uses full-force feedback combined with high-fidelity graphics and 3D rendering make the training environment one of the richest virtual trainings. They can manipulate and interact with soft tissues in the rendered environment and feel the textures that result. The company hopes to accelerate learning because the system does not require the continued use of physical resources such as cadavers.

The system uses FundamentalVR’s Haptic Intelligence Engine, a full kinesthetic experience using a variety of devices — from base station instruments to haptic gloves accurate within a sub-millimeter. The devices operate off the shelf and offer a lower-cost entry into training “pre-human” preparations and training.

Working with experts

The team’s latest results are part of a five-year journey working closely with surgeons and experts from institutions such as Mayo Clinic. The developments go beyond soft tissue training and offer more realistic training for difficult surgeries on the spine or eyes.

Soon, medical centers may be able to offer training more often without added cost or resources. It also provides better consistency throughout the training process, giving educators more control over the training environment. The company also predicts that based on the success of early trials, it hopes to eliminate the need for wet labs and cadavers in the next five years.

The system builds muscle memory necessary before real surgical trials and enables training from anywhere in the world. The company accelerated development during the pandemic when social distancing and safety precautions made traditional training much more difficult. Now, healthcare training centers have the potential for a highly scalable, lower-cost training protocol that produces the same, if not better, results than traditional training. It’s the next generation of medical education.

Elizabeth Wallace

About Elizabeth Wallace

Elizabeth Wallace is a Nashville-based freelance writer with a soft spot for data science and AI and a background in linguistics. She spent 13 years teaching language in higher ed and now helps startups and other organizations explain - clearly - what it is they do.

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