Healthcare update - 250821 - Main 1

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VR continues to emerge as a serious treatment option and solution to a range of healthcare issues

Quick read

➨ VR is proving its worth for a range of use cases in healthcare and that work is continuing
➨ NeuPath and Cynergi Health Partners are evaluating the effectiveness of VR in treating chronic pain management
➨ Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are conducting a three-year study to map the brains of adolescents before and after epilepsy surgery

The story

Virtual reality (VR) is proving its worth for a range of use cases in healthcare, from treating pain and connecting medical professionals with patients at home, to potentially rewiring the human brain. And that work is continuing.

NeuPath, a healthcare provider with 15 clinics in Ontario and Alberta focused on chronic pain, spinal injuries, sport-related injuries, and concussions, and Cynergi Health Partners have just announced a project to evaluate the effectiveness of VR in treating chronic pain management.

They want to evaluate VR as a treatment for chronic pain management after numerous studies showed the benefits of pairing the immersive technology with more conventional interventions, according to NeuPath chief executive officer Grant Connelly.

They will use Rilaxta VRx, the VR treatment software from Cynergi, a Texas, USA-based company specialising in treatment technologies for addiction and psychiatry. Watch the video to explore how the solution works.

NeuPath and Cynergi intend to combine Rilaxta VRx with other treatments during the project, with a view to developing and co-marketing a combined offering for use across Canada and the US, utilising NeuPath’s own remote pain management and virtual care solution.

Connelly continus: “Working with a leading group like Cynergi allows us to bring innovative, behavioural pain treatments to our patients. In addition, collaborating with Cynergi and co-marketing Rilaxta VRx with NeuPath’s virtual care platform creates a compelling offering that will open new markets in Canada and the US.”

Dr Harbir Singh, chief executive officer of Cynergi, adds: “Chronic pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Studies estimate the cost of this lost productivity to be in excess of US$300 billion per year in the US alone.”

“Collaborating with NeuPath and building a holistic chronic pain targeted treatment programme provides an outstanding opportunity to work with employers and other payers to improve patient quality of life while also reducing disability related costs as well as other direct healthcare costs.”

VR for healthcare turns to ‘the brain’s ability to rewire itself’

Doctors, engineers and scientists at The University of Texas at Austin, meanwhile, are conducting a three-year study, led by Dell Medical School, to map the brains of adolescents before and after epilepsy surgery.

They will examine how novel brain-machine interfaces and “embodied learning technologies”, such as playing games on a VR treadmill, can help the brain rewire itself before surgery, move key functions away from the surgeon’s target, and recover more quickly afterward.

Brain surgery is delicate and potentially dangerous, with key functions such as speech, memory, reasoning often perilously close to the surgical site.

Healthcare update - 250821 - The University of Texas neuroplasticity study
A 3D model of the brain’s left hemisphere highlights regions responsible for movement and touch (red), speech perception (orange) and speech production (blue)

The researchers hope to harness ‘neuroplasticity’—or “the brain’s ability to rewire itself”, according to The University of Texas—to “prevent important real estate in the brain from becoming collateral damage to the surgeon’s knife”, explains lead investigator David Paydarfar MD.

Paydarfar adds: “Our initial study will explore how we can do that for young people undergoing surgery for epilepsy, but we hope our findings will have broader implications for brain health.”

Healthcare update - 250821 - Infinity Treadmill
Infinity Treadmill

As part of the three-year study, the researchers will put participants through their paces on two Infinity Treadmills donated by Blue Goji. The wellness technology startup was co-founded by Coleman Fung, whose foundation also donated $2.5 million.

Fung says: “Although neuroplasticity is such a well-understood attribute of the brain, we have not proactively leveraged it in a clinical setting. That’s why I am so excited to support this multidisciplinary team and its groundbreaking research.”

VR is emerging as a serious treatment option and solution to a range of healthcare issues. Are you aware of any studies and partnerships that deserve coverage? Let VRWorldTech know via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or editor@vrworldtech.com, and we will share them in our next healthcare update.

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Images: Cynergi Health Partners and The University of Texas

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