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The Haptic Hope in Medical and Surgical Training

In terms of healthcare, technology continues to break barriers and reshape the landscape. Among the many exciting technological advancements, haptics has emerged as an overlooked tool which is now transforming medical training and surgical assistance. Harnessing the power of touch, haptic technology is enabling healthcare professionals to simulate tactile feedback and interact with virtual environments.

So what exactly is haptics?

Simply put, haptics is the science and technology of simulating touch sensations and forces in virtual and remote environments. By integrating haptic devices into medical training and surgical procedures, healthcare professionals can experience realistic touch feedback and therefore gain a deeper understanding of complex anatomical structures and surgical techniques.

Medical applications

Traditionally, training methods in the medical sector often rely on textbooks, lectures and limited hands-on experience. Boring. However, haptics allows aspiring surgeons and healthcare professionals to bridge the gap between theory and practice. With haptic simulators, trainees can perform virtual procedures, feeling the resistance, texture and feedback as if they were operating on real patients.

“Healthcare professionals do an amazing job in often difficult conditions. The fact is critical errors do still occur. Now, we don’t have to accept error as inevitable. It’s not just a human and societal tragedy, the cost is also huge, with the NHS paying more than £2bn yearly for medical-error settlements”. – Richard Vincent, CEO of FundamentalVR, a global leader in virtual reality and haptic healthcare software.

Furthermore, haptic technology plays a vital role in surgical assistance by providing surgeons with invaluable support during complex procedures. Surgeons can leverage haptic devices to manipulate virtual models of patient anatomy, offering a tangible sense of touch while performing intricate surgical manoeuvres. By simulating the tactile sensations of real tissue, haptics empowers surgeons to refine their techniques, reduce surgical errors and optimise patient outcomes.

As haptics continues to evolve, the possibilities for its application in healthcare are expanding. Innovations such as force feedback, vibrotactile feedback and wearable haptic devices are all on the horizon. Would you feel safer going into surgery knowing haptics are involved? 

Source: VR and Haptics 

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