Virtual reality in teaching
A new way of learning about medical engineering
You'll study two new virtual reality (VR) laboratories, developed by the Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine. The purpose of these labs is to combine medical simulations with VR visualisation tools into an innovative learning experience. Medical simulations are used for pre-operative planning: they allow for quantification of the effects of different interventions in a patient-specific manner and can be used as a pre-surgery training tool. You will learn to handle complex patient-specific medical simulations, to interpret results of such simulations, and to convey your findings to broad audiences with the help of VR technology. The use of three-dimensional visualisation tools will also improve the effectiveness of communication at the interface between technology and medicine. The labs have two primary applications:
- Musculoskeletal application
The surgical treatment of lower back pain via placement of a fusion fixation device. During this orthopaedic surgical procedure, two or more vertebrae are anchored to each other by using a rigid or semi-rigid prosthesis constituted by a combination of rods, plates and screws. The aim is to reduce the vertebral mobility and thus avoiding damage to the spinal cord and to alleviate low back chronic pain. Computational simulations of such procedures involve the evaluation of a patient-specific intervention and allow for the pre-surgery comparison of various prosthetic assets to select the best treatment option.
- Cardiovascular application
The endovascular treatment of a cerebral aneurysm via deployment of a flow diverting stent. Aneurysms are weak spots in a blood vessel wall that result in localised outward bulging. Rupture of such bulging can cause serious complications, especially in the brain. The positioning of a stent in the aneurysm site aims at diverting the blood flow and providing a scaffolding for the development of new tissue across the region at risk. Computational simulations of the stent deployment allow for the pre-operational virtual assessment of the flow diversion in the region of an aneurysm.
The VR Cave
Located in our flagship Diamond building, the VR Cave is a unique teaching tool used for visualising computer models and simulations of the human body, geared towards virtual and augmented reality experiences for groups and individuals. The available systems in the VR cave allow users to access and experience a real-time, collaborative and immersive virtual reality environment, with one of the rooms able to accommodate up to 20 people.
For applications in Computational Medicine, the VR Cave is an exciting opportunity to exploit novel visualisation tools. The virtual reality immersive experience allows students to contextualise and explore the results of medical simulations in a three-dimensional and interactive way, facilitating the understanding of the obtained results. Moreover, these novel visualisation tools allow for successful engagement of non-technical audiences and students will be challenged to present their findings with the aim of improving the communication with medical doctors.
About: La Fondation Dassault Systemes
The development of two new modules for MSc Computational Medicine have been supported by a charity, Dassault Systemes, La Fondation.
"The use of modelling and virtual reality of these modules will equip students with a unique combination of technical, communication and dissemination skills to work effectively in the biomedical sector, and we are delighted to have supported this initiative."
Dassault Systèmes La Fondation