What role can virtual reality play in patient care?

Supporting those affected by cancer during their treatment remains essential to combating the disease. Nearly 400,000 cancers are diagnosed in the country each year, a number that has been increasing for thirty years. Treatment is mainly via radiation therapy. However, patients can also be treated via solutions such as surgery or chemotherapy. The VORTHEx project, led by the Hartmann Institute of Radiation Therapy in the town of Levallois-Perret, with the help of the Dassault Systèmes group and its know-how through its laboratory 3DEXPERIENCE Lab, has one purpose for sick people: to help them to understand the treatment and its specifics.

Science fiction level medicine?

Recent advances in medicine are reminiscent of what you see in science fiction books and movies. This project combines virtual reality with the treatment of the patient using the radiotherapy technique.

The Hartmann Institute for Radiation Therapy (part of the ELSAN company) offers patients high-performance qualitative methods and, for a short time, a virtual reality experience – called VORTHEx – which offers patients the opportunity to experience a simulation of treatments. performed with two cyberknifes (proposing high-precision techniques) from the center. This previously unique experience was conceived and designed with the know-how of the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab Group. This is a unit of Dassault Systèmes, an expert in the design of VR solutions.

Virtual Reality optimizes the patient experience

Faced with the side effects of cancer treatment and the fear of radiotherapy treatment rooms, patients are often stressed and fragile. The protocols are presented to them and the appointments with the experts and the articulated radiation therapy robots are moments that are difficult to follow. Good morale is an essential element in healing. However, not all of this stress is positive. Thus, this virtual reality allows the patient to better prepare for radiotherapy. The aim of the VORTHEx project is to optimize the patient experience of radiation therapy via a virtual treatment room, a “virtual twin room of the new radiation therapy room at the Hartmann Institute”.

Virtual reality has already proven itself in the medical world. Thus, VR has been used with the aim of reducing pain levels, reducing stress and anxiety, fighting addiction, optimizing rehabilitation techniques in people with stroke, etc.

VORTHEx project: What is it?

The VORTHEx project will offer cancer patients the opportunity to understand their treatment in the best possible way through visualization via virtual reality. First, it will be tested at the Hartmann Institute for Radiation Therapy, which houses one of the latest therapeutic innovations. This will be done via the Cyberknife robot thought and developed by Accuray. The latter will offer the possibility of treating tumors with a high-precision technique that affects small volumes.

The robot targets the diseased area and does not touch nearby tissue. Through this project, patients can see in 3D all the technical and protocol components of care, namely: the room, the Cyberknife robotic arm, the position of the person, the modalities and the different phases of the sessions. Know that this 3D initiative, which offers optimal preparation of patients before their treatment, is an international first. Its purpose is none other than to help the patient optimize his or her ability to heal.

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