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What Are the Different Uses of Virtual Reality?

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands

The uses of virtual reality include assisting with physical and emotional therapies, military training and medical preparation. Virtual reality games are popularly used for recreation and entertainment, but the same technology may also be used to help individuals with physical and mental handicaps acquire valuable skills. Researchers are continually working toward developing simulated vacations and other experiences with virtual reality.

Also known as VR, virtuality or virtual life, the uses of virtual reality largely include video games and recreational rides at amusement parks and other event locations. Computer-simulated environments, however, are proving to be beneficial in areas of science and medicine as the uses of virtual reality continue to expand in these fields. Using stereoscopic displays of the body and other organisms, doctors and scientists are able to study these subjects more closely without having to use their original forms. For instance, instead of using an actual human brain for study, a three-dimensional virtual reality brain can be constructed to model that of a patient doctors are preparing to perform surgery on. With this technology, doctors are able to perform even the most complex surgeries with greater confidence and precision.

Woman holding a disc
Woman holding a disc

In creating highly detailed and tailored virtual reality environments, doctors and therapists are also able to assist individuals suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Such is done by creating a similar experience in augmented reality to the original experience that triggered the disorder in individuals. With such uses of virtual reality, patients plagued by stressful memories are able to relive and confront troubling experiences under the supervision and care of a therapist to try to gain understanding and closure about these events while attempting to relieve stress related to them by developing new coping skills.

Patients suffering from serious injuries who have been prescribed physical rehabilitation may also benefit from the uses of virtual reality. As such, repetitive movements and exercises can be performed in simulated environments instead of patients having to repeatedly perform them in the presence of a therapist. This may help in strengthening injured body parts, restoring full ranges of motion and in helping patients develop balance and dexterity.

Military uses of virtual reality are also popular. By creating simulated combat experiences, soldiers can practice maneuvers and make battle plans. This type of training is performed in a safe, controlled environment where soldiers and commanding officers can strategize and prepare for combat.

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