Glimpsing the Future of VR-Enhanced Patient Care and Medical Education

Members of the U of T AR/VR Network had an engaging visit to the Collaborative Human Immersive and Interactive Lab (CHISIL) at SickKids Hospital on Thursday November 30th, 2017. We were hosted by Clyde Matava and Fahad Alam, Professors of Anesthesia and founders of the CHISIL Lab (with sites at both SickKids and Sunnybrook Hospitals).

It was an inspiring presentation during which they shared some highlights from their current research into the effectiveness of immersive VR for patient care and education (exposure therapy and VR for pain distraction.) They talked about some research topics for future inquiry such as the effectiveness of having a parent or caregiver present virtually in the operation room and the development of immersive VR modules that use actual medical tools rather than gaming controllers.  

Also, our hosts allowed us to experience some of their VR modules first hand. We were shown a suite of immersive 360 videos (available as the “ChildLife VR” iOS app) intended to educate and assuage patient anxiety. They also had us try an immersive VR module that required a head-mounted-display and controls which put us into the role of a physician in a trauma scenario with an injured virtual patient. One of the procedures we had to perform as virtual physicians was a laryngoscopy (camera inserted via the patient’s mouth) featuring live video feedback on a monitor within the virtual scene which was dynamically tracking the user’s movements and positioning of the virtual endoscopic camera.  We could certainly all see how such an experience would help build a future physician’s skills and confidence before attempting any actual procedures for the first time. 

We look forward to future visits and potential opportunities for collaboration with the CHISIL team.

Photo of U of T AR VR Network members wearing an HTC Vive headset as they experienced an immersive medical training module.First/left panel: Clyde Matava, Professor of Anesthesia and co-founder of CHISIL Lab at SickKids Hospital, Laurie Harrison, Director, Online Learning Strategies – photo by Mike Spears. Middle panel: Clyde Matava, Alexander Sullivan, student and VR developer, Diane Michaud, Academic & Collaborative Technology Support – photo by  Alexandra Bolintineanu Right/last panel: Ron Wilson, Associate Professor and Acting Director, Human Biology Programs –  photo by Mike Spears.  

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