In a first approach to the world of Augmented Reality, we established the differences between technologies of mixed, augmented and virtual reality. In this second installment, we are going to review the applications that are already being made of these realities in the health sector.
Medical data visualization
Applications aiming at the agile viewing of patient data such as ultrasound, tomography images … obtaining a more accurate view of data improving diagnoses and facilitating the decision making for possible surgical interventions.
RV does not need the human patient to be present, since it deals more with off-line simulation. This makes it very suitable for training.
The simulator called LapSim emulates a real surgery with the laparoscopic technique using a haptic device that allows reproducing the sensations of the realized movements.
Both AR and VR are able to improve the surgery by allowing the preparation of them with patient data and testing various techniques to choose the most convenient. At the same time, it is able to guide and mark relevant information during the development of the surgery obtaining more efficient and less invasive surgeries.
MEVIS system allows to prepare the surgery using 3D images of x-rays and tomographies to reconstruct the locations of blood vessels. In addition, during the development of them, is able to register the planning data and display blood vessels in different colours.
Diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation
The AR and VR have a clear application in tests for diagnosis of diseases, treatment of phobias and support and incentive in the rehabilitation generating virtual and safe situations
Emotional evaluation system developed by CARTIF. The system generates situations and emotions through an avatar of a person to identify them by people with schizophrenia. It can be used in diagnosis, treatment and evaluation of progress.
In this aspect, the AR provides a new channel that allows improving the learning providing other points of views on the knowledge. An example is the books that through mobile applications allow seeing parts of the anatomy in 3D.
The use of these technologies is based on a series of techniques that make possible its use. Any advance in these techniques greatly improves the technologies. The main techniques used are:
Registration of information and monitoring: It is very important to position the user to be able to correctly locate the contents in their environment even if the user or objects move or even partially cover. This is done through visual marks such as bidis that are identified by the system and allows accurate placement of the contents.
Display screens. It allows integration between the real and the virtual. The most striking technique is the use of head screens (smart glasses) that allows the user to see the physical world through the lens and superimpose graphic information in the user’s field of vision by reflecting it in their eyes. Other techniques are screen in hand (mobile or tablets) that capture the physical world with a camera and overlay graphic information on the video. Space projection uses digital projectors to display graphic information about physical objects.
El uso de estas tecnologías se sustenta en una serie de técnicas que hacen posible su utilización. Cualquier avance en estas técnicas mejora enormemente las tecnologías. Las principales técnicas usadas son:
Registration of information and monitoring. It is very important to position the user to be able to correctly locate the contents in their environment even if the user or objects move or even partially cover. This is done through visual marks such as bidis that are identified by the system and allows accurate placement of the contents.
Display screens. It allows integration between the real and the virtual. The most striking technique is the use of head screens (smart glasses) that allows the user to see the physical world through the lens and superimpose graphic information in the user’s field of vision by reflecting it in their eyes. Other techniques are screen in hand (mobile or tablets) that capture the physical world with a camera and overlay graphic information on the video. Space projection uses digital projectors to display graphic information about physical objects.Head screens
In order to interact with these systems, typical interfaces such as touch screen, mouse, keyboard or more advanced and specific interfaces such as gloves, brain interfaces or simulation tools are used as surgical material …
As we have seen, AR and VR have promising potential for use in medical applications because it provides seamless integration of data visualization with the patient’s body. This allows for improved methods of medical diagnosis and treatment.
There are technological limitations especially on the screens and registration of data that make this technology have not yet a realistic clinical application in a regular medical environment, but the progress in several R&D projects and the interest shown by the researched ones is encouraging.
Finally, it is necessary to solve a great challenge that is often overlooked and is to improve the real usability of these systems, avoiding the sensory overload and making the viewing experience more controllable, simple, agile and transparent so that the only concern of the medical staff is the patient.
Technology is very present in our lives. Proof of this is the increasing use of computers, smartphones, tablets and video games. Technology helps us with daily tasks, provides entertainment and fun, but can also improve fields such as medicine and health by helping to understand concepts, forming and encouraging both patients and healthcare personnel.
Technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality have been introduced in our lives mainly through video games and have a lot of potential for implementation in the world of health. Everybody knows about these concepts but we are going to comment these terms to avoid confusion.
The mixed reality (MR) consists of combining the virtual world and the real world, creating spaces where virtual objects interact with real people and vice versa. The degree of mixing between these two worlds gives rise to the concepts we know as augmented reality and virtual reality.
The augmented reality (AR) is a simplification of the mixed reality where the user is stimulated with virtual contents in real time.
Virtual reality (VR), however, consists of virtual iteration with virtual objects in a virtual environment.
The AR and MR technologies have a wide field of work in the medical field, such as the fusion of the 3D data of the medical examination with the patient’s view that allows improving the precision in the diagnoses. AR has a clear application in supporting surgery, while VR is more suitable for simulation without the actual patient. Any of these technologies can be used for the training of doctors and medical students, as they improve the situation and the spatial awareness of the practitioner. In addition, the patient can also be supported by a variety of applications through this technology focused on training, treatment, rehabilitation…
These technologies have been used for many years in different aspects of medicine. After the explication of these three reality types, my next post will be based on the application of them in the health field.
VideoGames, social networks and wearables have been installed in our lives since a few years. They occupy much of our free time, allowing new methods of interacting with families and friends. They are part of the so called Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), a pillar of the new concept of health eHealth that gives meaning to the use of social networks, videogames and wearables in order to improve the quality of life of the people.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines eHealth as “the use of information and communication technologies for better health monitoring; for example, for the treatment of certain patients, promote research, create tools for education students, do screaning in various diseases”. The main participants of the eHealth, patients (ePatient) and doctors (eDoctor) are aware of that technology can improve the performance of health systems and make use of it for their benefit.
The objective of eHealth is to focus the health system on the specific needs of citizens by providing and exchanging information. Hence patients, professionals and health managersprovide knowledge to the care chain with the aim of promoting the prevention, diagnosis early and specialized treatment.
The main services that provide e-health are telemedicine, telecare, online consultations, telematic management, monitoring and treatment delivery and management big data the health management entails. Professionals, patients and managers are closer, easing efforts, avoiding displacements and reducing resources while improving service.
The new technologies, social networks, specialized blogs, wikis, podcasts, videos and messaging services, video games, wearables, of whom know their lucid and social part allow the exchange of information and knowledge, basic aspect in e-health, through:
Patients’ Communities in whom share experiences, talk about their disease, treatments and resources available. Patients have company.
Professionals’ Communities to share experiences, knowledge, approaches, concerns, views, etc.
Health networks that connect patients with professionals, and provide useful information to users. They often include valuation services, testimonials, advice, recommendations, etc.
Health information Sources available to patients and professionals who report on the latest developments and report on the health aspect.
Direct communication through the latest technologies (videoconferencing, chat, blogs, forums, etc.) that enable remote assistance, and allow the patient and the professional maintain a close relationship.
Patient monitoring and treatment, application usage and wearables devices that allow continuous monitoring of the health conditions of patients, especially chronic, and evaluate, motivate and guide their treatment.
Treatments and health monitoring of chronic patients require monitoring professionals who perform the testing and evaluation of patients. So far, it requires the need to go to the health center and make an appointment with the appropriate professionals. Mobile applications, wearables and video games allow the patient can perform their own testsat home providing professional data necessary to carry out the necessary assessments without resorting to consultation, reducing costs, increasing the rate of monitoring and increased adherence to treatment.
There are a lot of applications related to eHealth and especially chronic patients such as diabetes. Videogames, or Serious Games, as they are called, are a kind of applications that go beyond entertainment and allow motivate, evaluate and inform patients, allow greater adherence to treatment in patients. These applications and devices can increase patient knowledge about their disease and enhance training and skills development and extraction of valuable information for professionals, while fun and involves the patient.
It is clear that eHealth offers many advantages but, are they accessible to everyone? The basis of eHealth is ICT and therefore requires knowledge and assimilation of them. Not everybody dominate these technologies. The elderly have greater difficulty in accessing Internet so that, there is a handicap to overcome in order to they can be part of eHealth. They also tend to have misgivings about changes and prefer not to change.
As you can read, eHealth facilitates the exchange of knowledge, treatment adherence reducing costs and increasing the knowledge of patients and professionals. But its implementation is slow because it depends not only on technology but the attitude of people to them.