27 Jul Virtually Healthy: Improving the Patient’s Experience Through Tech Innovation
Shifts in technology are making the healthcare landscape richer and more diverse, and an amplified perception of our bodies and our health help to fuel innovation. In thas respect, some big strides have been made in virtual reality simulation. Today we’re shining the spotlight on UK-based Virtually Healthy, a fitness technology start-up company that is in the midst of researching the physical and mental health benefits of virtual reality (VR) gaming on fitness, rehabilitation, and therapy. A combination of gamification and virtual reality can address many physical and mental health issues in a fun and lighthearted environment, which encourages users to engage. They are looking to offer an app that will provide many different exergaming packages that will be designed for different health goals and instead of traditional rehabilitation exercise programs. After researching the lack of adherence rates in traditional rehabilitation programs, Katie Hoolahan (CEO of Virtually Healthy) recognized that this was a big problem in our society and VR could be a possible solution.
Given the high rates of mental health illness and obesity, it is clear that more can be done to improve the health and well-being of the majority. These are only two out of many of the conditions that Virtually Healthy believes that they can benefit from their developments. Over the last decade, the interest in VR has surged to an all-time high. The lock-down brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic has only increased its popularity, giving users a way to cope with staying indoors, both mentally and physically. Research is beginning to show the benefits of using VR for mental health such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety as well as for physical activity. Gamification shapes behavior and changes the perception of exercise to increase participation. Their solution combines these tools to provide an effective approach to engage users in improving their physical and mental health. For VR game developers as well as consumers, Virtually Healthy is a company worth watching. With the use of advanced technology including motion capture, they are analyzing the movements of the user in each game and providing in-depth information on muscle movements, exertion, and motivation.
Virtually Healthy is planning on developing an app to host various VR exercise programs for physical and mental health, as well as release programs in VR arcades, starting in the UK. They are in discussion with the NHS Trust about collaborating on further research, with an end goal of providing their app and programs to be available on the NHS or in private healthcare institutions. Their vision is for physiotherapists and doctors to be able to recommend these programs as an alternative to home or gym exercises and even in some cases medication. We may also be seeing them develop specific VR Health Arcades in the future.