When virtual reality technology came out, it seemed like a fun new way to play games. Now, the technology has been found to have benefit to people with certain medical conditions,called balance disorders. Let’s look at how medical professionals are using this technology to help improve patients’ lives.
What Are Balance Disorders?
Balance disorders is the name for a condition that effects a person’s sense of balance.
Symptoms of a balance disorder include:
- Feeling of floating or being lightheaded
- Staggering while walking
- Blurred vision
- Confusion or becoming disoriented
- Dizziness or feeling like you are spinning
The symptoms may be more severe in some patients than others. more serious symptoms can include things like vomiting, changes in heart rate or blood pressure, and increased anxiety and panic.
While it can happen that a balance disorder begins without a cause to pinpoint, there are causes in most cases. Some causes of balance disorders include:
- Ear infection
- Head injury
- Low blood pressure
- Eye muscle imbalance
It’s more likely that we will experience balance disorders as we age, but since there is such a myriad of causes, it can effect individuals of any age.
How Can Virtual Reality Therapy Help People With Balance Disorders?
In recent years, there have been numerous studies and clinical applications of virtual reality technology in treatment of balance disorders. This treatment has been shown to help patients with balance disorders to overcome their issues.
The way that virtual reality therapy works is that patients wear the headset and are immersed in a realistic scenario, such as going grocery shopping or driving. This is beneficial in two main ways:
1. It helps the patient to become less sensitive to stimuli which lets them tolerate the stimuli better in real life situations. In essence, the virtual reality therapy serves as an exposure therapy to the patient and allows them to learn to process stimuli differently.
2.It acts as a form of physical and mental rehabilitation for patients. It teaches patients who may be overly relying on vision for balance how to begin relying upon other aspects of sensory input like their feet,joints,and muscles for stability and balance. This allows the patients to train their brains and bodies to utilize methods that work better for them. This can increase the patient’s stability, safety, and overall quality of life with consistency and dedication.
Benefits Of Virtual Reality Therapy
Some reasons medical providers and patients prefer this treatment are:
- Able to get treatment remotely
- Can safely be used to treat chronic balance issues
When technology is invented, especially when its purpose is seemingly for entertainment only, it’s inspiring that it can help improve people’s lives,too. As medicine includes more technology, finding new treatments like this may become commonplace.