Preparing surgeons for their first experience in the OR is a difficult task. Demonstrations on plastic models or cadavers and textbooks can help, but they only go so far. What VR presents in a surgical setting is the opportunity for a trainee to immerse themselves in a procedure in real-time.
Even if they know every tiny step is being supervised and scrutinised, volunteers are unlikely to be forthcoming for trainee surgeons to practice on. Whilst we might be inclined to take a risk on a great meal from a trainee chef or a cheap haircut, we aren’t going to do the same for our laparoscopy or knee replacement. But for Health Care Professionals (HCP’s) to improve, the more time they spend, and more practice they get in OR-room scenarios the better.
In theory, this is what this technology provides.
Simulation and VR technologies give the HCP an immersive learning experience, allowing them to learn and make mistakes without severe consequences. This means skills can be honed far quicker than through watching procedures and demonstrations. The professional can get hands on experience much quicker.
Take the tools used. Familiarising themselves with the likes of scalpels, drills and saws is a huge part of life as a surgeon. Building muscle memory and familiarity with these items is key to both a surgeon’s confidence and competence. Virtually all the simulators on the market today have life-like tools on hand so the student can get used to handling them. One company taking this one step further are Virtamed who build customised simulators which include custom designed tools. This opens up opportunities for those in training to use a wide variety of surgical implements and also appeals to medical device manufacturers who could demonstrate their products’ benefits in a surgical scenario.