Having hands-on-practice is essential to perfecting skills and when it comes to healthcare the need is all the more crucial. Hands-on practice triggers multiple senses of a learner and provides an all-round learning experience. Simulations are an effective way to fulfil this need of practical training with virtual reality training possessing the benefit of providing learning experiences in every kind of field and skill – even the very high-risk ones. Healthcare is one such significantly important area that requires a good deal of practice and VR is helping achieve this very effectively. The addition of haptic feedback in healthcare training in virtual environments provides users with realistic experiences, helping them prepare for real-life situations.
What is haptic feedback
While VR simulations served the practical training requirement there was one crucial element missing – the sense of touch. Touch plays an important role in diagnosing and treating patients. Touch does not merely refer to the initial feeling we get on coming in contact with a surface. Touch also includes the haptic feedback we receive from the object or person. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “…haptic touch involves many essential receptors that are located in the muscles, joints, and tendons, and not in the skin at all. Since these receptors are almost always thought to be involved in coding for touch, there is the additional problem that even the rich set of receptors in the skin are not the only ones involved in typical touch experiences.”
The sense of touch and haptic feedback fulfils physiological as well as functional purposes as it is a collection of multiple modalities.
Haptic feedback in healthcare training
In medical training sessions, the inclusion of haptic feedback not only adds realism to the training but also helps learners determine success of failure of their actions. Since the feedback is immediate learners can instantly decipher the effect of actions and make changes to their techniques, if required.
Haptic feedback is beneficial in all aspects of healthcare training. However, there are some areas where its significance is extremely valuable.
– Aspiration: Aspiration of any kind, be it blood or bone marrow or any other fluid, is an invasive procedure. It involves directing a needle into a patient to ‘extract’ samples to test them for disease or disorders. Haptic feedback in medical procedure training serves as a guide to direct these needles to the appropriate location. It also serves as an experience builder helping develop the sense of what to expect when drawing blood, tissues or any other fluid.
– CPR: Cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure and must be performed perfectly for effective results. Compressions are an important part of administering CPR. Where to place to the heel of the hand and how much pressure to apply? With the heart running low on oxygen there is no room for mistake. CPR training that provides haptic feedback can help learners gauge the exact pressure to be applied and prepare them to face a real-life emergency.
– Surgery: Surgery is an invasive procedure and requires extreme care, caution, and practice. Apart from being familiar with the instruments used for a procedure, learners should also know what to expect when using the instrument and what feedback to look for. This brings about clarity in the training process. With haptic feedback in healthcare training, the learner also comprehends how to maneuver their instrument to perform a smooth surgical procedure, with minimum discomfort to the patient.
– Fracture setting: Experience and practice are the key performers when doing a fracture setting procedure. The learner will not be able to see the bone being set and will have to rely on the feedback the patient’s body gives. Haptics, in such a situation, becomes indispensable. Incorporating haptic feedback in such VR simulation trainings can bring about massive improvements in the learning quality.
– Dental: The dentist has to perform within a fairly small area. When working on one tooth there are the others to be taken care of also, especially in cases like tooth extraction. How much pressure to apply and where to apply are some of the considerations which training with haptic feedback can help understand and practice. Repeated practice will help develop muscle memory and perform efficiently.
– Injections: Injections are administered for multiple reasons. These could be intravenous or intramuscular. When an injection is inserted, the patient’s body sends a feedback, could be voluntary or involuntary. VR simulations with haptic feedback provide this experience to the learners, helping them administer injections with minimal pain to the patient.
Knowing how to perform a procedure does not equate to being skilled in performing it. It’s like reading up on how to drive a car but never practicing driving one. Thorough practice is required to master any skill and when it concerns the healthcare professions the significance of this practice is very high. Haptic feedback in healthcare training solutions gives learners an all-round learning experience. Learners are well informed, knowledgeable and prepared to face real-life scenarios with confidence.
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