VR Healthcare Is Poised to Grow to a $32 Billion Industry

Dr. Stacy Livingston

When we hear the phrase virtual reality (VR), we often think of video games or entertainment. However, this transformative technology is finding innovative applications in a range of industries, including healthcare. From surgical training to mental health therapy, it has the potential to improve medical outcomes, patient treatment, and healthcare education. The global market for VR in healthcare is projected to grow significantly, indicating a shift towards more interactive and immersive healthcare solutions.

The Evolution of VR in Healthcare

VR technology creates simulated environments that offer immersive experiences, engaging users through visual, auditory, and sometimes haptic feedback. This makes it one of the most important trends in healthcare for the coming years. It can be used to create realistic, controlled settings for both practitioners and patients. The essence of VR's impact lies in its ability to simulate complex medical scenarios for educational purposes, provide innovative treatment options for chronic pain and mental health issues, and facilitate rehabilitation processes with unparalleled precision and safety.

Enhancing Medical Training

In medical education, VR offers a hands-on virtual world for future surgeons to learn in. Medical students and professionals can now repeatedly practice complex surgical procedures in a risk-free, virtual environment. This hands-on experience is invaluable, significantly enhancing learners' skills and confidence without compromising patient safety. 

The data supporting VR's efficacy in education is compelling. Studies indicate marked improvements in performance and a reduction in errors during actual surgeries. A Harvard Business Review study found a 230% improvement in overall surgical performance after training in VR programs. 

“Surgeons often lack adequate opportunities to consistently practice skills they’re learning,” remarked Gideon Blumstein, one of the authors of the study. He pointed out that VR can “directly address the skills gap by providing immersive, hands-on training that closely simulates an operating room environment.” 

Managing Pain with Virtual Distractions

Beyond the realm of medical training, VR's role in pain management represents a significant departure from conventional methods. Distraction therapy via VR immerses patients in alternative realities, reducing their perception of pain by 24%, according to one study. This innovative approach has shown promise in managing acute pain during procedures and chronic pain conditions, offering a potential reduction in the reliance on pain medication. 

It works by tapping into the mental side of pain. “Stress, anxiety, depression, and fear all contribute to pain,” explained Dr. David Binder, a psychiatrist who is studying the applications of the new technology. A lot of evidence suggests that if you’re able to treat those, you can help reduce pain.” VR's success in this field underscores its capacity to merge psychological techniques with technology for enhanced patient care.

Confronting Mental Health Challenges

VR technology has also revolutionized mental health treatment. By simulating triggers and environments in a controlled manner, VR therapy aids individuals in confronting anxieties, fears, and traumatic memories. A UK study reduced patients’ fear of heights by 68% through VR experiences.

This type of exposure therapy, when guided by professionals, can significantly diminish the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and related conditions. The personalized nature of VR therapy allows it to be adapted to the specific needs of the patient, providing a tailored therapeutic experience that traditional methods may not offer.

Shaping Breakthroughs in Physical Therapy

VR also holds great potential in physical therapy, offering customized and effective rehabilitation solutions. By integrating motion-enabled games, VR technologies allow for the accurate reproduction of physical movements essential for patient recovery. Brennan M. Spiegel of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center explains that VR has the potential to help in physical therapy “both by reproducing precisely what that physical movement is supposed to be and hopefully providing some additional motivation to do the exercise.” 

Studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in treatments for children with cerebral palsy, where VR significantly improves motor functions. VR's benefits also extend to the elderly, enhancing memory, cognitive functions, and socialization. Furthermore, in cognitive rehabilitation for conditions like multiple sclerosis and post-stroke spatial deficits, VR amplifies the benefits of traditional therapies by enhancing sensory integration and processing, marking it as a pivotal tool in contemporary physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Ethical and Practical Considerations

While VR's applications in healthcare are vast, ethical and practical considerations must be addressed. The potential for overuse, privacy concerns, and the risk of depersonalizing patient care are valid critiques that healthcare professionals and VR developers must consider. Guidelines for the responsible use of VR, including session limits and appropriate patient selection, are essential to mitigate risks and ensure the technology's benefits are fully realized without unintended consequences.


VR technology holds significant promise for transforming healthcare. From enhancing surgical training to offering new approaches in pain management and mental health therapy, its applications are diverse and impactful. As VR technology continues to evolve, its integration into healthcare practices offers a bright future for improving patient care and healthcare education. With careful consideration of its use and potential risks, VR can be a valuable tool in advancing the medical field.


Harvard Business Review


Harvard Health

The Lancet


New York Times

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Dr. Livingston enjoys taking care of patients from the mild to the wild. He is the doctor for you, if you have been to other places and told there was nothing that could be done for your or told “It’s all in your head”. He accepts all types of cases including workers compensation, auto accident and personal injury cases. He believes chiropractic can help everyone add life to their years and get them back to doing what they love.

No items found.
Nth Degree - Safari Dan
Next Up In
Nth Degree - Safari Dan
Pinnacle Chiropractic (Mid)
Banner for Certainty Tools, Play your Game.  Blue gradient color with CertaintyU Logo
No items found.
Nth Degree - Safari Dan
Pinnacle Chiropractic (Mid)