Can we consider virtual reality as a medical device to stimulate the heart and respiratory system?


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A Master's thesis.
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Master (thesis) (master)
Can we consider virtual reality as a medical device to stimulate the heart and respiratory system?
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
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0.1 Objectives
Virtual reality (VR) is a computer system for immersing a player in a virtual world. The main goal of this
study is to see if VR could not only be a hobby, but also a medical device with a positive impact on the cardiac and respiratory system by increasing their frequency. The second objective is to analyse the
advantages and drawbacks of today’s VR system and suggest specific improvements for the medical world.
0.2 Method
For this purpose, we measured the heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR) and the calory consumption
(kcal) of fourteen participants (seven men and seven women) during three phases: resting on a bed without stimulation for 15 minutes, playing a VR game for 30 minutes while sitting and walking outside on a flat ground for 15 minutes. The results were then compared to see how the data changed
between the three situations. They also fulfilled a survey on their experience and thoughts about
implementing VR as a medical device.
To collect the data, the volunteers have been equipped with a Hexoskin connected T-shirt and a
Garmin Vivofit watch during the whole study. For the VR session, they wore an Oculus Rift headmounted display (HMD) and played a narrative and explorative game called “The Vanishing of Ethan
Carter”. The goal is to find some clues to resolve an enigma in an environment that closely resembles to the Earth’s atmosphere.
0.3 Results
Compared to the reference values measured during the resting phase, VR was able to increase the HR
of men and women by 16.79% and 7.20% respectively. On the opposite, the RR did react differently
with a decrease of 6.98% for men and a slight increase of 2.89% for women. The calory consumption
has also increased by 35.39% for men and only 3.98% for women. The range between the lowest and highest values for the HR, RR and kcal increases when playing a VR game and even more when walking.
The survey shows that the volunteers would recommend VR as a leisure activity or as a rehabilitation
device. Nonetheless, the main problem encountered during this study has been nausea, a well-known side effects of this technology. To improve VR games for rehabilitation, some improvements could be done, such as developing an
adventure game in a realistic and dynamic environment, with goals, rewards and a multiplayer option.
0.4 Conclusion
VR does play a role in how our body reacts and adapts to different virtual stimuli. This mechanism could be used to develop VR as a medical rehabilitation tool for different diseases. Many studies have shown that VR has a positive impact as a therapeutic device and especially in combination with current
therapies. However, in order to implement the VR system as a medical device, some improvements are needed, such as instantaneous feedback, short and long-term rewards, a user-friendly interface,
multiplayer option and reduction of side effects such as headache and nausea.
Virtual reality, rehabilitation, nausea
Create date
07/09/2020 10:18
Last modification date
05/10/2020 5:26
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