Medical applications for virtual reality (VR) are just beginning to emerge. These include VR surgical simulators, telepresence surgery, complex medical database visualization, and rehabilitation. These applications are mediated through the computer interface and as such are the embodiment of VR as an integral part of the paradigm shift in the field of medicine. The Green Telepresence Surgery System consists of two components, the surgical workstation and remote worksite. At the remote site there is a 3-D camera system and responsive manipulators with sensory input. At the workstation there is a 3-D monitor and dexterous handles with force feedback. The VR surgical simulator is a stylized recreation of the human abdomen with several essential organs. Using a helmet mounted display and DataGloveTM, a person can learn anatomy from a new perspective by ‘flying’ inside and around the organs, or can practice surgical procedures with a scalpel and clamps. Database visualization creates 3-D images of complex medical data for new perspectives in analysis. Rehabilitation medicine permits impaired individuals to explore worlds not otherwise available to them, allows accurate assessment and therapy for their disabilities, and helps architects understand their critical needs in public or personal space. And to support these advanced technologies, the operating room and hospital of the future will be first designed and tested in virtual reality, bringing together the full power of the digital physician.
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The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the author and are not to be construed as official, or as reflecting the views of the Department of the Army, the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or the Department of Defense.