Although health and safety are challenging VR issues, the technology can also help to improve our health. There is an increasing trend toward distributed medicine, in which doctors train people to perform routine medical procedures in remote communities around the world. Doctors can provide guidance through telepresence, and also use VR technology for training. In another use of VR, doctors can immerse themselves in 3D organ models that were generated from medical scan data (Figure 1.18). This enables them to better plan and prepare for a medical procedure by studying the patient's body shortly before an operation. They can also explain medical options to the patient or his family so that they may make more informed decisions. In yet another use, VR can directly provide therapy to help patients. Examples include overcoming phobias and stress disorders through repeated exposure, improving or maintaining cognitive skills in spite of aging, and improving motor skills to overcome balance, muscular, or nervous system disorders. VR systems could also one day improve longevity by enabling aging people to virtually travel, engage in fun physical therapy, and overcome loneliness by connecting with family and friends through an interface that makes them feel present and included in remote activities.
Steven M LaValle 2016-12-31