Medical Augmented Reality

Health care is one of the application areas where augmented reality can be applied by all actors of the field. AR is already widely used in training of new doctors. There are already lots of applications for medical education. Also, patients are benefiting from therapy applications, helping them to regain full functionality of their body. In the future, AR will have a more profound impact on the health care sector. Doctors will use AR to conduct surgeries more efficient and with more accuracy than today. [1]

Medical education

Learning how the human body works is difficult. Medical students not only need to know how all the parts of the body function, but where they are located. Since the human corps is a 3 dimensional object, augmented reality makes it easier to visualize it compared to a 2 dimensional screen or piece of paper.

At the Build 2016 Keynote, Microsoft demonstrated an application for its AR glasses called “HoloLens”, which is used in medical education. Students are able to see a model of the human body including the relevant parts for the course. Through gestures the model can be manipulated. For example, it is possible to zoom in/out, rotate the model or switch between the parts, which should be visible. Besides interaction, it is possible to collaborate in a group. A model can be manipulated by more than one person. This person not necessary needs to be in the same room. With the application for HoloLens, it is possible to work with people in different geographical locations. Learning the functions of the human body with a 3D model compared with studying with books saves valuable time and allows students to understand functions more efficient. [2]

Video: Microsoft HoloLens: Build 2016 Keynote. Medical education application demonstrated at 6:00 to 10:40.

Rehabilitation

Patients are an additional user group, which can benefit from AR in the health care are. For example, AR can be used in the stroke rehabilitation process. Patients need intensive treatment, usually with a therapist. To lower therapy costs, patients practice arm and hand movements with an AR application instead of with a therapist. The app cannot fully replace a therapist. Compared with virtual reality solutions, an AR system feels more natural because the patient is able to see its own body and interact more intuitively. [3]

In 2010 already, a group of researchers developed a prototype of a game for rehabilitation of the upper-limb. Objects on a table and the hand movements are recognized by a webcam. Different movements can be practiced with various objects. The equipment for the training is affordable and is not only suitable for rehabilitation in a hospital, but also for home use.

[1] http://www.healthtechevent.com/technology/augmented-reality-revolutionizing-medicine-healthcare/

[2] http://medicalaugmentedreality.com/2016/03/microsoft-hololens-build-2016-keynote-medical-demo/

[3] Mousavi, H., Khademi, M., & Dodakian, L. (2013). A Spatial Augmented Reality Rehab System for Post-Stroke Hand Rehabilitation, 279–285.

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