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Hi! We’re researchers at the National Insititutes of Health (NIH) who use virtual reality in health and medical research. We’re here to answer your questions about how VR is being used in to better human lives – ask us anything!
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r/Science AMAs
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Virtual reality, one of the most rapidly expanding areas of tech and gaming, is also playing important roles in the arenas of medicine and health – and for good reason! The ability to simulate experiences expands opportunities for biomedical researchers, clinicians and patients in ways that previously seemed limited to the imaginations of sci-fi writers. Patients can now reduce stress through VR experiences, doctors can practice surgical techniques through simulated experiences, and medical students can practice bedside manner in different scenarios in a virtual world. These experiences are just the tip of the iceberg on what can be done to improve our medical care and well-being with VR. Here at NIH, researchers are using VR to study a host of research questions. For example: How can VR be used to better our response to emergencies during natural disasters? In what applications is VR used for rehabilitation after brain trauma, and how can we improve upon this? Can VR be used to improve the way doctors talk to their patients about genetics? Will patients better understand how to take care of themselves by participating in VR scenarios powered by PubMed articles? Can we use VR to communicate with patients in a way that helps them understand and adhere to healthy living strategies? We’ve gathered our experts and are here to answer any questions you might about virtual reality in health and medicine! Ask us anything! Your hosts today are: Susan Persky, Ph.D., Head of the Immersive Virtual Environment Testing Area, and Associate Investigator in the Social Behavioral Research Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute. My research applies virtual reality tools to understand how genetics will change the interactions we have in medical settings, in society, and within our families. Patti Brennan, RN, Ph.D., Director, National Library of Medicine (NLM). Before I came to NIH I created the Living Environments Lab which used a c6 CAVE to accelerate design of home care technologies (http://www.vizhome.orghttp://www.vizhome.org/) At NIH, our Advanced Visualization Branch in the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) will use VR/AR to improve patients’ self-care and self-management skills. Victor Cid, M.S., Senior Computer Scientist, Disaster Information Management Research Center at the NLM. I conduct and manage research and development activities to support the work of emergency responders and managers before, during and after disaster situations. Among my projects, I develop virtual reality simulations to train emergency professionals, and explore the opportunities that immersive virtual environments can offer for professional development, collaboration, and as platforms for outreach and innovation. John Ostuni, Ph.D., Staff Scientist, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). My research focuses on developing virtual experiences for use with medical research. William Kistler, M.A., Lab Manager of the Immersive Virtual Environment Testing Area at NHGRI. My Master’s research focused on the human perception of motion and exploring its basic limits via stimuli created in virtual reality. Currently, my work is in support of social and behavioral researchers seeking to augment their own research with virtual reality tools. Jeremy Swan, B.A., Biovisualization Specialist with the Computer Support Services Core at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). My duties include helping investigators communicate their science and use emerging technologies in their research by producing graphics, diagrams, 3D prints, VR apps, photos, videos, websites and applications. UPDATE: Thanks all for the wonderful questions! We had a great time answering them and can’t wait to do this again in the near future. Cheers, Reddit-ers!