Virtual reality shows new promise for some kinds of surgical training

A recent validation study conducted by the David Geffen School of Medicine indicates that virtual reality could provide significant benefits to surgical training.

The study, which was financed by the virtual reality surgical training startup Osso VR, indicates that participants who used the company’s training methods improved their overall surgical performance by 230%.

That’s a huge number, but research into the efficacy of virtual reality training is still early.

Still, the “Randomized, Controlled Trial of a Virtual Reality Tool to Teach Surgical Technique for Tibial Shaft Fracture Intramedullary Nailing” takes the first step at providing evidence to back up the long-held assertions that learning in virtual reality has benefits that accrue in real-world scenarios.

The promise of virtual reality training is its “anytime,” “anywhere” applicability according to Osso VR, and the results of this study indicate that in certain controlled scenarios, the company may be right.

UCLA performed its test to see whether the Osso VR technology was worth bringing into the school for additional testing, validation and potential rollout.

In the UCLA study, 20 participants were divided between a traditionally trained group and a group that underwent VR training to a specified level of proficiency. Each participant then performed a tibial intramedullary nailing on a sawbones simulation, graded by an observer who did not know which participant had been in which group.

Students who’d had the VR training completed the procedure 2% faster and completed more steps correctly according to the procedure-specific checklist that participants were scored against.

“As an orthopaedic surgeon, it’s critical to me that our technology is evidence-based. As we roll out a completely new way to train, we want our users and customers to continue to see this platform as effective and reliable,” said Justin Barad, MD, CEO and co-founder of Osso VR, in a statement. “These study results are just the beginning as we tackle one of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry today. Our goal is to unlock the value our providers and industry are working to bring to patients around the world.”