Brennan Spiegel, MD, is director of health-services research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he directs the Center for Outcomes Research and Education, which maintains one of the largest and most widely cited therapeutic virtual reality programs in the world. Spiegel is also professor of medicine and public health at UCLA. He wrote ACING the GI Board Exam, but he’s on the show today to discuss his book, VRx: How Virtual Therapeutics with Revolutionize Medicine.
Dr. Spiegel shows how a simple VR headset lets hospitalized patients escape the four walls of their isolation room to visit Icelandic fjords, empowers patients with schizophrenia to confront the demons in their head, offers dementia patients a new way regain function in a life-sized virtual town, and enables burn victims to manage their pain by traversing snowy virtual landscapes. Scientists are starting to uncover these surprising benefits, and not so far in the future, we may have doctors specializing in virtual medicine with its own ACING the VR Board Exam Review Book. In an unexpected way, VR is also strengthening the humanity in healthcare: vivid simulations of patients’ experiences can make us more empathic.
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