NEW YORK, June 3, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has lead to the cancellation of elective surgeries across the US. This, coupled with the scaling back in face-to-face teaching, limits the hands-on training and experience surgical residents rely on to hone and practice their skills. As a result of this gap, a number of academic medical training programs have linked with FundamentalVR, to explore how VR training programs can allow its orthopedic students to continue their studies remotely. In addition to this work, programs including NYU Langone Health, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Melbourne Orthopaedic Group and the NHS in the UK have come together on a series of workshop webinars to share best practices and discuss needs for the orthopaedic VR curriculum.
In 2018, FundamentalVR created Fundamental Surgery, the first surgical simulation platform to use HapticVRTM, which combines VR with the sense-of-touch to allow surgeons to experience the same sights, sounds and feeling they would in a real procedure. In mid-March 2020, the company released its @HomeVR modality, the only training solution to bring simulations accredited by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to standalone VR headsets such as Oculus Quest and HTC Vive Focus Plus.
Orthopedic residents from training programs across the country now have access to VR headsets and an orthopedic training platform where they can continue their studies from any location.
“In addition to its impact on the clinical care provided at major academic medical centers across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a dramatic effect on orthopaedic surgery education and training,” said Dr. Eric Strauss, Associate Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Health. “At home VR tools allow residents and fellows to continue their studies and training uninterrupted. Immersive technologies are ideal for the current situation and, until recently, would not have been possible. It will have an ongoing place in our training curriculum even after the current health crisis has passed.”
Developed by leading surgeons and gaming engineers, @HomeVR offers high-fidelity graphics and professionally accredited medical educational content that complements the gold standard education capabilities of the HapticVRTM modality. It provides an efficient way for students to become proficient in each step of a procedure, familiarize themselves with the anatomy and the environment, and carry out exercises safely. Additionally, its data tracking capabilities allow every aspect of a student’s progress to be monitored, allowing both residents and their supervisors to access real-time feedback.
In addition, during the present COVID-19 crisis, FundamentalVR has worked with teams at NYU Langone as well as Imperial College London to add new multiuser and multimodal education capabilities to the Fundamental Surgery platform. With the multiuser capability, an unlimited number of users can enter a single virtual OR from multiple locations to engage and practice together. This feature allows students and teachers to remotely and safely interact, ask questions, and receive real-time feedback while performing or viewing a procedure step-by-step together.