For many months we have been hearing about the success and results of the beta testing phase of the 360-degree virtual goggles—Oculus Rift. Prior to the recent release, universities and medical facilities around the globe were the only ones able to get their hands on this evolving virtual technology—but as of March 2016 these virtual goggles, soon followed by competing goggles, will be made available to the masses.

Virtual Reality, A Long Awaited Emerging Industry

Over the last several decades, the assumed advances in virtual technology have been visualized in movies and TV shows—but now the future is here. While some only desire virtual goggles for entertainment purposes, gaming and a lifelike movie/TV experience—the applications go well beyond entertainment.

For those unfamiliar with virtual technology, these goggles allow users to immerse themselves in a 360-degree 3D world. Any building, business, home, attraction, or location can be transformed into a life-like virtual rendering. When the goggles are on, you are able to look up, down, left, right, and even behind you—and experience the location or simulation as if you were actually there in real life.

In fact, we may see goggles replacing traditional desktop monitors.

What Is Virtual Therapy?

In the beta testing phase of the Oculus Rift goggles, many hospitals and medical facilities explored ways in which the goggles can be used within the medical field. While the studies are all fairly small, virtual therapy is being used to successfully treat and manage everything from PTSD, high blood pressure, depression, and is even being used for hands-on cardiac rehab.

In addition to improving upon traditional treatments, virtual therapy is a more cost effective method of treatment—and simulations can be selected for the individual patient—to stimulate specific areas of the brain.

Virtual therapy is even being used at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan to turn kid’s wheelchairs into virtual rollercoasters!

How Can Virtual Therapy Be Used In Senior Care?

While there is not yet a widespread senior-care-specific virtual therapy solution, this emerging industry is sure to have something for seniors in the near future. This could include everything from allowing nursing home professionals to perform life-like virtual training, emergency evacuations, recovery and rehabilitation, and virtual games and activities designed to address everything from memory loss, depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

We will keep an eye out to see how virtual reality continues to evolve in the world of healthcare.