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How VR Saves Lives in the OR

By Charlie Fink | September 28, 2017

(Forbes) - Because Doctors are scientists and scientists are all about identifying, analyzing and solving problems, they are always among the first to harness new technology to improve the health of their patients. With health representing 20% of the U.S. economy and tech over 10%, scale dictates that tiny improvements in either sector have a huge impact.

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Slight improvements in training, a slightly better test or tool, or a faster diagnosis, have the potential to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. As a result, we’re finding a lot of early innovation in new virtual and augmented reality technology in medicine.

We see seven themes emerging from new VR and AR apps for health: (1) training (2) education (3) visualization (4) psychology (5) Telehealth and telesurgery (6) screen consolidation and (7) physical training, health, and fitness. This article will focus exclusively on the applications of Virtual Reality – fully replacing the world with a realistic digital simulation of patient-specific anatomy and pathology.

Augmented Reality, which puts data in the user’s field of view, like a pilot’s “heads-up display” (HUD), has many compelling applications to offer the medical profession. With tips from sources, we found one AR Health startup, Echopixel, in stealth mode that wants to map CT scans on real patients. Doctors are surrounded by screens all day, but they have to look away from the patient to see them. AR headsets solve this problem while opening up whole new areas for innovation and augmentation. A lot of technological change is going to manifest in health care first.

ImmersiveTouch of Chicago, Illinois founded in 2005, is surgical simulation company that uses Vive and Rift Head Mounted Displays (HMDs), patient-specific anatomy and haptic (tactile) feedback in order to train surgeons and team members, and educate patients themselves. The company provides modules for Neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Ophthalmology, ENT, and MIS procedures “This technology represents a major shift in how VR technology is delivered to surgeons,” said Jay Banerjee, COO. "ImmersiveTouch training reduced surgical errors by 54% comparing a control group using current training methods." Dozens of elite medical and educational institutions including Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and the University of Chicago are currently using ImmersiveTouch to train their residents with procedural modules using a library of generic cases.

“We are the first company in the nation to integrate VR based surgical training with haptic technology. This allows your hand to feel the resistance of a surgery and be able to tell the difference between skin, muscle, and bone while working on a 3D human patient," said Pat Banerjee, Ph.D., CEO of ImmersiveTouch. “The Mission Rehearsal virtual reality environment is a vast improvement over the distortions of x-rays and other traditional imaging that can misrepresent the challenges inherent in the patient’s anatomy."

Surgeons at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi recently used the ImmersiveTouch Mission Rehearsal virtual reality surgical platform to prepare for an extremely rare surgical procedure to separate Siamese twins co-joined at the head. Using VR and haptic robots that feel like a patient, surgeons were able to immerse themselves in a 3D virtual operating room. “We could see, feel and study connected tissue, discuss anatomy, and examine surgical pathways to practice the surgery multiple times and plan the most effective surgical roadmap,” said Dr. Deepak Gupta, who led the surgical team of 40.

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MetroHealth surgeons get new 3-D training tool

Lydia Coutré | September 24, 2017 | Crain’s Cleveland Business

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Although the patient is a simulated projection, the user of a new tool at MetroHealth can feel the resistance of skin and then bone as they pierce a virtual needle into the body. The "needle" tool is part of new virtual reality technology for surgeons to practice complex operations in a 3-D environment. MetroHealth is the exclusive testing site for MissionRehearsal, created by Chicago-based ImmersiveTouch, Inc.

The technology takes a specific patient's imaging from CT scans, MRIs and angiograms and reconstructs it in a 3-D model that allows a surgeon to create a detailed plan in virtual surgical reality. This can be key for unusual or complex cases in which a surgeon would have less specific experience than a more routine case, said Dr. Ben Roitberg, chair of neurosurgery at MetroHealth.

The technology also can be used to expand the teaching libraries.

"The ability to do rapid virtualization and have highly interactive, much more advanced simulation allows for not only … the experienced surgeon to prepare for a particular case but for that experience to be then transferred more easily to trainees at a more advanced level than is currently possible," said Roitberg, who has worked with ImmersiveTouch to develop virtual reality simulations since 2007, long before he joined MetroHealth in 2016.

About 45 institutions in the country have ImmersiveTouch's technology. Dozens, including Cleveland Clinic, are using it to train residents with procedural modules and generic cases. But MetroHealth is the only site that has the next generation of that technology, which it is helping to develop and test.

The old model helped in teaching students, but the time it took to virtualize patients' imaging made using it in surgery preparation completely unrealistic, Roitberg said.

"I've worked with a number of simulation programs, but this has been, from my perspective, the most advanced and the best for where I see the future should be going," he said.

The idea is to be able to have a patient get a scan and see the virtualization in the same appointment, said Patrick Kania, biomedical visualization manager for ImmersiveTouch.

"The doctor can consult with the patient before the patient goes home," he said. "So we would be able to educate the patient enough and then be able to build a little bit more complexity in for the doctors to practice."

Surgeons can show the details and surgical path of a procedure to a patient using a virtual reality headset, iPad or desktop monitor. The ability to show patients 3-D images and explain what a doctor is doing is a huge benefit, Roitberg said. In cases where he is able to show a patient the 3-D reconstruction of their pathology, the patients "responded to this amazingly," he said.

"We are the first company in the nation to integrate surgical training, planning and patient education in a virtual environment with haptic technology," said Pat Banerjee, CEO of ImmersiveTouch, in a statement. "This allows your hand to feel the resistance of a surgery and be able to tell the difference between skin, muscle and bone."

The platform is scalable for academic and community hospitals, meaning any health system with an operating room can use MissionRehearsal to improve surgical planning and patient education, which can mean lower costs and better outcomes, Banerjee said.

In the roughly one month that MetroHealth has had the technology, it already has used it for one case and Roitberg is planning a multicenter collaboration to apply it. He said he sees it being used a couple of times a week by surgeons, but notes that the estimate includes only the applications he knows about. Other surgeons or experts might see other ways to use the technology.

"When you're doing another routine, minor operation that you've done 100 times, you probably don't need to go and prepare, but many operations are special or unusual or require specific planning," Roitberg said. "Being able to pre-do it on a virtual model of the patient is a safety and confidence component."

The training component also is a huge help for fellows and residents, who often rely on complex cases to enter the doors of their hospital to learn the nuances of certain procedures.

"Certain things are just not common enough that you meet it frequently enough in a fellowship, and yet once you've graduated, you're expected to be an expert," Roitberg said. "If you can re-operate then on the expert's case in virtual reality, you get a much better understanding of the real surgical anatomy."

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MetroHealth using virtual reality to practice neurosurgery

Monica Robins | September 13, 2017 | WKYC

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The MetroHealth System and ImmersiveTouch, Inc. (ITI) unveiled a new technology for surgeons to practice complex operations in a 3-D virtual reality environment. MissionRehearsal® enables surgeons to practice on a specific patient’s case prior to the real surgery, using information from the patient’s CT scan, MRI and angiograms.

Images are uploaded and the patient’s anatomy is reconstructed in a 3-D model. The surgeon can then create a detailed plan in virtual surgical reality. MetroHealth is the first hospital in the country to install this breakthrough technology.

Ben Roitberg, MD, chair of neurosurgery at MetroHealth, has worked with ImmersiveTouch since 2007 to help develop virtual reality simulations for the next generation of surgeons. Academic institutions around the country have implemented the technology, and thousands of trainees around the world have used it to train using a library of generic cases.

Dr. Roitberg brought the breakthrough MissionRehearsal® technology, focusing on specific patients’ brains, to MetroHealth. MetroHealth will continue to develop and refine the technology to further enhance the virtual reality experience for surgeons and use it to train future doctors.

Surgeons can discuss procedures with patients using the virtual reality headset, an iPad or desktop monitor, showing them the surgical path and additional educational material.

Immersive Touch is the first company in the nation to integrate surgical training, planning and patient education in a virtual environment with haptic technology which allows your hand to feel the resistance of a surgery and be able to tell the difference between skin, muscle, and bone.

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By Marat Arguinbaev | April 12, 2017

(The VR Base)- Quite a few healthcare companies are actively experimenting with new and innovative technologies. It is evident that Virtual Reality technology can play a big role in the future of healthcare. In fact, quite a few institutions have made significant progress in adapting virtual reality technology to the needs of the medical sector.

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While surgeons are well-versed in performing precise operations, there is always room for future improvements. ImmersiveTouch provides a VR imaging platform to surgeons who are looking to practice their profession in between surgeries. Surgeons can also upload MRI and CT scans to the platform’s cloud service and have them reconstructed in virtual reality. It is quite an interesting concept that will hopefully continue to gain more traction in the healthcare sector.

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(The Medical Futurist)

VR is conquering new heights in terms of healthcare and sales figures

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Medical/Therapeutic VR is an area with fascinating possibilities. It has not just moved the imagination of science-fiction fans, but also clinical researchers and real life medical practitioners. As a doctor, you could assist in the OR without ever lifting a scalpel. If you are a medical student, you could study the human body more closely and prepare better for real life surgeries.

Although VR has promised to become “the next big thing” on the market for decades in vain, statistics show that the time has come now for the technology. Various market research companies estimate that the VR hardware and software market could be worth around $30 billion by 2020. The sales of VR headsets are projected to skyrocket in the next few years: 500 million could be sold by 2025. Currently, there are 685 virtual reality start-ups with an average valuation of $4.5 million, according to start-up tracking site AngelList; and their number will grow further. This all means that both the demand and the supply side – starting from the cheap Google Cardboard to the expensive Oculus Rift – is growing. So, I thought it is time to enlist the most important VR companies in healthcare. Challenge accepted!

ImmersiveTouch for more precise operations

Being a surgeon requires immense amount of knowledge, constant preparation and practice, as the smallest failure could cost a patient’s life. However, up until now it was uneasy for doctors and med students to practice their profession before surgeries. ImmersiveTouch aims to become a game-changer in this respect. It offers a VR imaging platform that allows surgeons to see, feel and experience minimally invasive surgical pathways to improve surgical precision and patient outcomes.

When a surgeon prepares for a complex brain surgery, the MRI/CT scans of the patient can be uploaded into ImmersiveTouch’s cloud, then reconstructed into 3D VR. Then, the surgeon can rehearse or teach various surgeries, and “get in touch with the patient”, since the platform replicates the surgical touch and feel of the patient’s anatomy. Simply mind-blowing!

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5 ways to use Oculus Rift other than gaming

Nyshka Chandran | @nyshkac

Monday, 28 Mar 2016 | 10:11 PM ET

Oculus Rift's first virtual reality (VR) headset has been targeted at the consumer electronics sector, specifically gamers, but its real significance could lie in commercial use.

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Two years after being acquired by Facebook for $2 billion, Oculus Rift finally launched its hotly-anticipated device to the general public on Monday. The Rift aims to "radically redefine gaming and entertainment with 3D interactive content," according to the company's website, with over 30 video games available on the Oculus Store. More content will soon be added, including feature-length movies, Oculus said.

Experts, such as Zynga co-founder Tom Bollich, hailed the Rift's launch, comparing it to life-changing inventions such as computers and smartphones because of its potential to transform the technology market.

"The initial target audience may be gamers, but moving on from that, there are a lot of applications in the commercial space," echoed Kenneth Liew, senior research manager at market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

Still, the Rift's high price point and specific computer requirements could deter most people from buying it, compared to Google's Cardboard and Samsung's Gear that are lower-end and mobile-based, Joost Van Dreunen, CEO of market intelligence firm Superdata, told CNBC's Street Signs.

Among expectations for global VR consumer revenue to hit $3.6 billion this year alone, according to Superdata, we look at five ways to incorporate the Rift into the greater economy outside of entertainment.

Video conferencing

Using the Rift to make remote video calls could be the first non-gaming service to roll out seeing as it's a personal dream of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, Liew noted.

Earlier this year, Zuckerberg recently announced a desire to capture his child's first steps in virtual reality.

"I hope we have a 360 camera that can capture the whole scene, so if my family isn't there to experience it, I can send it to them afterwards - or it would be real-time enough where I could stream it to them live. They could put on a headset or get a message and feel like they're really there and experiencing it."

In 2013, electronics design consulting firm Pletex announced plans to bring immersive telepresence technology, i.e. a video communications system that simulates user immersion within a remote location, to the Rift.


Using the Rift to create three-dimensional (3D) graphics, interiors or products could be a game-changer for architects, engineers and the real-estate market, according to Liew.

Designers would be able to draw in 3D instead of a flat surface, enabling them to create true-to-scale, and navigable models, he explained.

A number of developers have already zoomed in on this sector, creating customized software for design-oriented firms. Moreover, prospective home buyers could also tour houses via a virtual reality headset and make informed decisions without actually being present, Liew noted.


The use of virtual reality for healthcare has been widely researched in the private sector, with companies such as Virtually Better, ImmersiveTouch and Medical Realities creating software for medical evaluations, therapy and surgery.

For example, doctors and trainees could use the Rift to examine a patient's body before performing invasive operations for greater precision, Liew said. Using the Rift to treat patients with mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, is also underway.


History and geography lessons can be enhanced with the Rift by bringing students to simulated environments, noted Liew.

High-profile academic institutions, including Stanford, are already incorporating virtual reality software, and some schools, such as the Savannah College of Art and Design, are even using it to recruit prospective students.


For staff working in massive warehouses, dealing with inventory and ensuring efficient, speedy deliveries can be a Herculean task.

VR headsets however could increase productivity, allowing employees to see where items are placed and optimize load building, explained Liew.

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Virtual Reality Depends on Growth Beyond Gaming

Stephen L Kanaval Follow | Tuesday, 19 January 2016 10:40 (EST)

When Goldman Sachs predicted that the virtual reality and augmented reality sectors could boom to an $80 billion dollar market by 2025, some analysts thought their projections were a little inflated. Large businesses are already starting to explore and experiment with the possibilities of merging virtual reality with other sectors.

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Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus was more than just about playing zero-gravity ping-pong. The Oculus Rift head-mounted tech can create digital communication that Skype could never allow. A virtual cross-country call home to friends and family could be heart-mending for many in our global economy. The idea of sharing reality with friends is the lure for Facebook, but VR goes well beyond that.

STRIVR Labs is an athletic training facility that exclusively uses VR to train players to assess game situations in real time. Temple University exclusively used the lab this year to help its quarterback, linebackers, and safeties. The founders and software engineers at STRIVR have goals to put this experience in the hands of the fans. What does it feel like to be Marshawn Lynch on one of those long bruising runs where seven people are slung on your back? STRIVR wants you to know.

Of course, virtual reality software is still dealing with latency issues, affordability, and ease of use. However in ten years many see VR changing healthcare, and military industries. ImmersiveTouch is a healthcare tech company that is looking to get into the market to train nurses and new doctors through VR simulators. Bravemind is a virtual reality experience that slowly exposes veterans to stimuli that trigger PTSD responses, which over time allows them to heal and create stress-relieving mechanisms.

Distance learning is another industry that could be disrupted by VR. Imagine a virtual classroom where you follow your history professor on a walking tour of Washington D.C. and being able to ask questions and explore the environment with one-on-one guidance. Imagine an online chemistry class that includes a virtual lab where your professor can assist you in experiments, rather than the usual platform of chats and downloadable PowerPoints.

After the imagination of the entertainment industry has reached its limits with virtual reality, practical applications will explode with boundless uses that stem from those tools and technology.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:

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3D Haptic Technology

Posted on Wednesday 18th February 2015 | Medical

ImmersiveTouch Inc. has received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for the Sensimmer® Mission Rehearsal® Software, making it the only patented and FDA-cleared software for simulating and evaluating open and minimally invasive surgical treatment options.

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The Sensimmer® software segments imaging data such as CT and MRI scans into patient-specific, 3D life-sized models. The 3D segmentation model can be exported to the ImmersiveTouch® Simulator practice environment where surgeons can “pre-operate” on their 3D patients by using a tactile robotic arm to touch and feel the subtle differences between specific tissues, organs, tumors and bones.

The company says numerous surgeons in the United States validated the realistic feel produced by the proprietary Sensimmer® algorithms and robotic arm and surgeons can concretely visualize their procedure by practicing different techniques before entering the OR – which will lead to an ever-expanding library of modules for training and post-operative debriefing.

The Neurological Surgery Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Medical Center has been using the Sensimmer Mission Rehearsal software for more two years, and has provided clinical insight to the company during its development. Fady Charbel, MD, Head of Neurological Surgery at UIC, is the Principal Medical Advisor for ImmersiveTouch and worked with ImmersiveTouch Co-Founder and CEO Pat Banerjee in validating the platform.

Dr. Ben Roitberg, Professor of Surgery and a long time collaborator from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, welcomed the FDA clearance. “This is a very important milestone. It is key for our ability to use the device for preoperative training,” he said. “It is definitely a major future direction because ultimately, surgical simulation should be done fully in virtual reality. That’s the way of the future, and that’s how training and practice of any procedure can be repeated multiple times, cost effectively, anywhere in the world.”

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HealthBox Unveils Its Chicago Class of Digital Health Startups

by Jasmine Pennic 07/31/2015

Healthbox, a healthcare technology focused business accelerator has announced the brand new class of innovative health tech startups for its upcoming Chicago Studio. This will be Healthbox’s fourth program in Chicago and fourteenth overall, where they have worked with 105 healthcare startups and invested in 85 to date. Since its inception in Chicago in 2012, Healthbox has contributed to a boom in the healthcare entrepreneurial movement in Illinois.

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These startups were selected from over 120 applicants via a rigorous selection process in collaboration with Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) and Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare. This cohort will also include an employee innovation, Guardian Health Technologies, from Rush University Medical Center, with the goal of Healthbox supporting the creation of a commercial business plan to accelerate growth.

Here is an overview of the ten selected digital health startups for Healthbox’s Chicago class:

Admetsys has developed a novel artificial pancreas for hospital and surgical care that improves health outcomes and health economics through high-tech automation.

GreenLight Medical is a cloud-based platform to facilitate online collaboration between hospital staff and medical technology professionals for the review, approval, and purchase of new medical technology.

Guardian Health Technologies from Rush University Medical Center is a medical decision support solution that uses artificial intelligence and evidence-based clinical content to analyze data to produce real-time insights to assist clinicians in making more accurate diagnostic and treatment decisions.

Human Practice offers a mobile platform for doctors to discover and communicate with each other within a health system to strengthen referral relationships.

ImmersiveTouch allows surgeons to visualize and practice a surgery using virtual reality and imaging technology.

Lifespeed allows you to personalize and share your health story with clarity through our innovative, private and secure platform.

Orunje is a healthcare on demand platform that connects patients with vetted local physicians and nurse practitioners with the goal of providing convenient, quality and affordable healthcare delivery.

SpiroSano is a clinical solution focused on redefining the way healthcare professionals manage chronic conditions such as Asthma, COPD, and Cystic Fibrosis by extending the relationship beyond the office visit allowing for real-life disease management.

Welltwigs has developed a smartphone connected fertility monitor that helps women get pregnant.

Wellth allows ACOs to directly and measurably improve the quality metrics on which they are graded and reimbursed.

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Sensimmer Mission Rehearsal Software FDA Cleared to Simulate Surgeries, Minimally Invasive Procedures


ImmersiveTouch Inc., a company out of Chicago, IL, won FDA clearance for its Sensimmer Mission Rehearsal software to be used in simulating potential surgeries using patient CT and MRI data. Surgeons can practice different approaches and techniques on the 3D models while actually feeling different tissue types through the haptic controller.

ImmersiveTouchThe system has already been in use at the Neurological Surgery Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Medical Center for over two years and the value of the system grows over time as interesting cases can be added to its database for post-op study and in preparation for similar cases in the future.

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From the product page:

Patient-specific 3D/Haptic models are built directly from CT/MRI data. Operating surgeons and their team can pre-visualize and ‘pre-touch’ their planned surgical intervention, explore the patient specific anatomy and fine tune their procedure choices using the ImmersiveTouch MissionRehearsal™ simulator. This helps reduced intra- and post-operative complications and reccurence/re-admit rates. The technology is ‘hands-on’ for the surgeons, easy to use, takes only 15 min – 30 min per case, and complements current surgery preparation methods with minimal chances in surgeons’ and radiologists behavior.

The benefits of improved patient quality of care, lower complication rates for surgeons, and reduction in cost of care from reductions in complications make this a must-have investment.

Other benefits include:

  • Improve utilization of OR’s, better prediction of surgery times and increase surgeons’ OR productivity
  • Better pre-operative surgery planning can help increase a hospital’s STARS rating
  • The 3D patient-specific anatomy model can facilitate surgeon/patient communication
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Virtual reality: How gaming apps are being used in healthcare to improve patient adherence and quality of life

For many people, the excitement surrounding virtual reality (VR) is pretty firmly embedded in its applications for gaming - allowing players to immerse themselves ever more deeply in their favoured pastime - be it racing cars, shooting zombies or playing sports. In recent years however applications have already started to appear that reveal a swathe of applications outside the gaming sector, including healthcare, and much of the recent activity has resulted from the plummeting costs and rapid improvements in the technology helped by cheaper, faster processors and other components.

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In fact, healthcare has emerged as one of the most fertile areas for VR applications. Systems have already been deployed to train doctors and other healthcare workers in a safe, interactive environment, help diagnose diseases and as a tool in robotic surgery, although these tend to be very expensive, sometimes as much as $300,000.

Now, with several cheaper, consumer-oriented headsets due to reach the market in the next few years in the $100 to $1,000 dollar range, the number of applications is expected to grow at a rapid pace.

Comfortably at the head of the pack among these new players is Oculus Rift VR - a company recently acquired by Facebook for $2bn - which has already made its Rift headset available to thousands of developers so they can work on applications for the device.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg seems to be enamoured with VR, saying recently he sees it and the related augmented reality (AR) - which layers computer-generated objects into the real-world - as the next major technologies that people will use to interact with each other, potentially supplanting smartphones.

In healthcare and medicine, there are already some fantastic examples of what can be achieved with VR, with much of the activity loosely split between training modules, clinical interventions and consumer-focused applications.

Training and education

Among the medical training applications, surgical simulation specialist ImmersiveTouch has developed a high-end unit that includes 'haptic feedback', recreating the sense of touch via a robotic arm in order to complement the 3D visuals generated by a headset from patients' CT or MRI scans.

The system is already approved for use by the FDA as a training module for both open and minimally-invasive surgeries, with a rapidly expanding library of surgical 'modules' extending its applications.

“Ultimately, surgical simulation should be done fully in virtual reality,” according to Ben Roitberg, professor of surgery at Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, who has collaborated with ImmersiveTouch on the unit's development.

“That's the way of the future, and that's how training and practice of any procedure can be repeated multiple times, cost-effectively, anywhere in the world.”

That view is backed up by a meta-analysis of 16 trials of VR simulators which concluded that using the technology reduced the time taken to complete a surgical task as well as medical errors, and could distinguish between experienced and novice surgeons.

Other companies working on VR and AR in the training sector include Viscira, Medical Realities and zSpace - with applications ranging from virtual, 3D anatomical atlases to training first responders in emergency situations such as traffic accidents.

Not all these applications require expensive equipment. In Viscira's Mindscape, for example, a Rift headset is used to simulate the effects of schizophrenia so that healthcare workers or carers can gain an understanding of the impact of the disease.

“Healthcare has emerged as one of the most fertile areas for VR application”

Healthcare has emerged as one of the most fertile areas for VR application

The intent is for the user to develop more empathy for the patient and the challenges they face, and reinforce the need for active, consistent patient support and ongoing medication adherence. It also helps to demonstrate the ability for patients with the disease to still lead active, quality lives with the right plan in place.

Viscira also developed a VR exhibit called EyeMac that enabled physicians to simulate the experience of having neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Treating patients

Using VR as a clinical intervention is still in its infancy, although there have been hundreds of clinical trials looking at its potential.

Many of these focus on the relief of pain and anxiety, but there are also studies focusing on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and phobias, diseases such as stroke, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as rehabilitation of patients undergoing major surgeries such as total knee arthroplasty.

Using Virtually Better's Bravemind - developed by scientists at the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) - soldiers suffering from PTSD can undergo a sophisticated form of graduated exposure therapy - reliving a traumatic event in a controlled way that helps them overcome their fears.

The system uses a headset, a haptic plate to deliver the physical shock of an explosion and even a scent module that mimics smells such as burning plastic, diesel and body odour. A related system called STRIVE aims to helps combatants prevent PTSD in the first place.

Scientists at the University of Washington have deployed VR in SnowWorld, a game that is used to distract burn patients - including veterans - while they undergo excruciating burn treatment and physical therapy. Clinical trials of the approach suggest significant reductions in pain during wound care while in the VR environment compared to simply playing the game in 2D on a console.

Other groups are using VR applications to provide motor and cognitive training to stroke and multiple sclerosis patients, treat headache, correct eye disorders such as strabismus and help people cope with social phobia, among many other examples.

“Clinical trials suggest significant reductions in pain during wound care while in the VR environment”

Consumer applications

While Oculus' Rift headset has underpinned many of the applications being developed, other tech giants are queuing up to bring rival devices to market.

Sony's project Morpheus is a headset firmly targeted at its PlayStation games console - now renamed PlayStation VR - while HTC and Steam are doing likewise with their Vive device. Both are due to debut next year.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's recently-announced HoloLens device is promising to transform Xbox games and much more - according to their video. Samsung's Gear VR - which turns a Samsung phone into a VR headset - is promising to make the technology available for as little as $99 (not including the phone of course).

Google is also reported to be working on a big VR project called Cardboard that goes well beyond a relatively basic headset prototype, which is an interesting development given the company's evident interest in healthcare.

Increasing competition means that the price point for VR is expected to plummet over the next few years while accuracy and user experience will improve, likely pushing the technology to an ever-wider audience.

Much like wearable devices such as smart watches, VR looks set to find a role in the fitness and wellness category, for example with the development of apps such as a new VR-enabled version of Runtastic that allow users to train in a virtual environment.

A much more sophisticated system called Icaros combines a multigym-like apparatus with software that allows users to fly through virtual landscapes - getting a serious workout in the process. With an anticipated price tag of $5,000 to $10,000, initially the device will be aimed at gyms and other fitness facilities, although the company says it is eventually hoping to develop a home version.

Although some analysts have predicted slow take-up at first - just like PCs and smartphones in the early days - others predict that within as little as three years sales of VR technologies will be worth several billion dollars a year.

Given the level of activity among developers, healthcare looks odds-on to grab a slice of that market.

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By Aaron Burch; July 29, 2016

We’re all aware that the potential applications of Virtual Reality span far beyond the world of gaming. There are potential applications in entertainment, sports, business and even in healthcare. Healthcare is one industry in particular that stands to really benefit from the utilization of VR technology. Imagine being able to get a consultation from any doctor across the globe. To take that thought further, imagine having a doctor in one country perform surgery in another country through the use of Virtual Reality; the possible applications of VR in the healthcare industry are truly limitless and have the potential to be more life changing than any other VR innovations. Healthcare is not one of the flashier industries for VR right now, as a result there are not nearly as many companies nor as much interest compared to those working on VR gaming; but the companies who are working in this space are doing great things and have real potential to alter the healthcare industry.

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ImmersiveTouch is working on creating simulation based surgical training and exploration. They accomplish this through the use of their simulators which immerse the person in a digitally replicated operating environment. The simulators used by ImmersiveTouch are kind of unique in look and have a lot of components to them including: two handed instrument replicas, surgery specific foot pedals, ultrasound guidance, endoscopic views and more. This looks sophisticated and like it would be really beneficial to use; and a tool like this gives surgeons the opportunity to learn something new without the risk of being in a live operating room.

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Virtual Realities – 4 Promising Healthcare Applications for VR

SEPTEMBER 27th, 2016

Once reserved for entertainment and gaming, virtual reality (VR) has now firmly established itself as a legitimate platform for improving healthcare. But, with all of the hype it can be hard to differentiate between the applications that are most likely to fizzle out and which will offer the greatest impact on the practice of medicine. To provide some clarity, we talked with Dr. Daniel Kraft, physician, entrepreneur and chairman of the Exponential Medicine Conference. The following includes his take on the pockets of medicine that are already experiencing the greatest VR advancements, with examples of the teams and technologies responsible for the innovation.

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Medical Education:

For years we’ve seen VR simulation technologies used for healthcare education and training. Companies such as ImmersiveTouch, VirtaMed and Medical Realities are combining 360 video and 3D interactive content to develop cutting-edge learning programs that place physicians and students inside a digitally replicated operating environment.

These technologies provide physicians and students with a risk-free setting to practice life-saving procedures and techniques–especially ones that are not commonly performed–while gathering usability feedback along the way.

Pain Management:

There are a number of cognitive distraction methods designed to decrease patient pain and anxiety. Applied VR, for example, is a mobile platform designed to distract a patient by immersing them in a simulated world filled with interactive games. Other innovations such as SnowWorld, an app that provides therapeutic VR for burn victims, as well as experimental advancements in phantom-limb pain management, prove that there are drug-free pain management alternatives that can be used within, and outside of, clinical care settings.

Treating Mental Illness:

Exposure therapy is the standard for treating some mental illnesses. Enter VR in place of, or in addition to, those experiences and you have a reasonably low cost, flexible, low risk solution for treating mental illness.

Bravemind is a software designed for veterans that suffer from PTSD, where patients are immersed into a simulated battlefield scene, allowing them to gradually relive the trauma under the care and supervision of a clinician. Companies such as Virtually Better and PHOBOS provide similar exposure therapy to help patients cope with phobias and other anxiety disorders.

Virtual reality has also unlocked new ways of relaxing and calming the body. DEEP and Zen Zone, both Google Cardboard apps, offer peaceful, guided meditation experiences for treating anxiety and panic attacks.

Exercise & Physical Therapy:

A huge shift is happening in the fitness industry as many startups–such as VirZoom, Widerun and BlueGoji–couple cardio routines with VR to change the way we exercise.

Taking it a step further, VR is also starting to play a larger role in physical therapy, where some patients are being offered an exercise regimen that includes VR, in place of invasive surgery and/or drugs. Companies like Gesturetek Health is one such company.

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How Virtual Reality Will Change the Health Industry

Published on 12th January 2017 | Friday

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Since 2012, there has been an immense leap in the interest of virtual reality. Products like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard have become huge topics of conversation as an era of virtual reality marks its birth. From the sciences to entertainment, virtual reality has found a way to permeate into and benefit industries across the globe. Among the industries, health care will see some of the most direct and imminent gains.

According to the team at Biotricity, a health company specializing in biometric solutions, "In the new year there will be a multitude of different benefits that virtual reality will play in health care, which will improve the lives of both doctors and patients." As 2015 comes to an end, the new year will bring exciting innovations in health care that will revolutionize the experiences of the industry, internally and externally. These innovations will include facilitation of procedures, trainings, and improvement of medical methods. Here are a few things to know about how virtual reality is effective the health care industry.

1. Virtual reality will assist employee training

One of the key implementations of virtual reality in the medical field is that it will allow doctors and medical professionals to practice procedures that they don't regularly have access to in the office. There are a variety of different mobile virtual reality devices that are becoming equip to handle these exercises. Among them, Gear VR, VR One, and Google Cardboard have stood out as some of the most promising. These devices will dramatically change the way in which hospitals and health care facilities are able to train their nurses, doctors, and medical personnel. There are many instances of virtual reality already playing a role in training. Nicklaus Children's Hospital has recently partnered with Next Galaxy Corp, an augmented and virtual reality company, to create software designed for procedures in hospitals. The technology is centered on the virtual reality medical instructional software, which functions to guide users through procedures like a Foley catheter insertion, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and wound care. As the technology continues to advance, training new employees will become easier and more cost effective. In addition, the training itself will be more effective. By enabling the trainee to immerse himself in a virtual reality environment, the staff member is able to synthetize a much more realistic and memorable experience for the new employee. Among its many proven benefits, virtual reality has shown remarkable abilities in enabling medical staff to learn and retain information

2. Although it is new, it's having a huge impact

Virtual reality will soon be guiding our learning in many ways. From teaching us new skills, to helping us overcome medical ailments, virtual reality will play a key role in the deployment and utilization of many different health related procedures. Despite its progress, virtual reality is, by any standard, still in its early stages. Its net benefits and possible implementations have yet to be fully uncovered. . Its interactive nature allows staff to participate in rather than observe procedures. When a person is engaged in an activity, their behavior effects their memory far more than if they were merely observing an activity. This type of learning is more conducive for long term memory and learning. Virtual reality is surprisingly a great way for medical facilities and hospitals to reduce cost. Seeing the potential for improvement in the industry, many tech companies are partnering up with virtual reality to bring the advantages to the present.

3. Clinical health care settings and hospitals are benefiting

Virtual reality offers doctors and medical professionals to simulate surgery and other intensive procedures. In doing so, the technology is able to strengthen the skill sets of the user at lower costs than before. Using new VR-imbedded technologies, surgeons receive both physical and visual feedback when going through the motions of a procedure. Companies like Medical Realities and ImmersiveTouch have developed new simulators to help these practices. While it is only recently becoming a main topic of discussion in the tech world, virtual reality has been providing benefits to health care for nearly 20 years. In the past two decades, virtual reality simulations have been operated in order to help patients with conditions like phobias, severe pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Laura Drucker | October 16, 2017

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Imagine heading into the operating room for a complex neurological surgery knowing that the previous day your surgeon practiced the same procedure on your exact brain structure. How much more confident would you feel in the outcome? This is the future of surgery, thanks to revolutionary advances in virtual reality (VR).

You’ve likely heard of VR’s uses in the gaming world, but it’s becoming an increasingly useful tool in the training of physicians, and surgeons in particular.

VR simulators can map individual patients’ anatomical structures and re-create them perfectly. Surgeons can then virtually practice on these unique, anatomically correct images, testing surgical techniques and making informed decisions on best practices.

This technology isn’t in hospitals yet, but it’s coming close. ImmersiveTouch, a Chicago company creating breakthrough VR devices for medical training, has already developed a surgical modules platform, allowing pre-operative practice on patient-specific structures. And it is just one of many companies taking on this incredible field.

Better training, less errors

Ali Alaraj, MD, is a neurosurgeon with the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System and an associate professor of neurosurgery at UIC College of Medicine. He has been researching and developing virtual reality simulations for neurosurgical training for a decade and was involved in the development of ImmersiveTouch modules.

“The value of virtual reality is to train people on certain procedures,” Alaraj says. “Conventionally in medicine it has been that you see a procedure, you assist on the procedure and then you start doing the procedure. Unfortunately there’s a risk to the patient by doing that.”

Surgeries are high-stress situations. For a surgeon, the pressure of performing an unfamiliar procedure can be amplified by inexperience and a fear of errors. VR technology allows surgeons to train in ways that feel real, without the risk of actual lives at stake.

“You can make errors as much as you want with virtual reality, and you can learn from those errors,” Alaraj says. For example, he says, a surgeon performing a VR surgery might insert a catheter in the wrong place, but he or she would be able to correct the placement, with no harm done.

Virtual training can have a real effect on patient outcomes. In a study of 16 surgical residents performing gallbladder dissections, those who trained with VR simulators were found to be six times less likely to make errors when performing the real surgery. Residents who had not trained with VR were five times more likely to injure the gallbladder during dissection. The VR-trained residents were more efficient, too, performing the surgery 29 percent faster than the other residents.

There’s another bonus, too. Cadavers — the more traditional modes of surgical training — are not always easy to procure, and there are ethical issues surrounding their use, Alaraj says. Not so for VR. As more tech companies start developing platforms for VR surgical training, he adds, its accessibility will be far greater than that of cadavers.

Full immersion

The reason VR devices are so effective in surgical training is that they are able to convey multi-dimensional sensations. As computational power improves, so does the ability to create experiences that feel more real. One of the keys to achieving this, Alaraj says, is haptic technology, which brings a sense of touch to the simulations.

“The haptics are the feeling of the simulation,” Alaraj says. They bring it to life. For instance, in VR training a stylus appears in the simulation as the scalpel or whichever tool the physician would use.

“As you move the stylus and touch the virtual objects that the computer is creating for you, you will feel that you’re really touching the object,” Alaraj says. “If my stylus touches the bone, I will feel that it’s very hard. It my stylus touches soft tissue, I will feel that it is soft and deformable and [the stylus] moves slowly.”

A study evaluating a VR surgery training simulator that involved navigating a brain cavity model using haptic technology found that those who received the VR training were better able to locate brain cavity objects, especially when it came to smaller objects, even with their vision fields obscured.

At the current rate of technological advancement, Alaraj predicts that it won’t be long before VR becomes an integral part of training for every medical student and resident, as well as a mainstay technology of hospitals. This is the future, he says, and patients are going to be safer as a result. Until that time, VR will continue to grow as a useful tool in surgical training, helping train a group of physicians that will be better equipped to handle complex procedures better and faster.

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Wytze De Haan | October 9, 2017

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Virtual reality might get its popularity from applications in film, gaming, and adult entertainment, but it is quickly becoming one of the most powerful new developments in a completely different industry: the medical universe.

In light of the upcoming VR Days 2017 on October 25-27 in Amsterdam, I took a look at three important areas in healthcare that virtual and augmented reality (XR) are making a difference in: Surgery, medical training, and patient treatment.

1. Surgery

One of many promising elements XR brings to the medical field is that of 3D models that surgeons can use to prepare and plan operations. These models are created by merging MRI’s, CAT-scans, and ultrasounds. Dr. Gary Steinberg, Stanford University’s head of neurosurgery, says he is now able to figure out how best to approach a tumor and practice operating it, “so that when I get into the operation, it’s as if I’ve been there before.” Similarly, doctors at Stanford Health Care are using virtual reality technology during brain surgery as a visual tool and to train future neurosurgeons before trying out their skills on real patients. Cambridge University’s research lab even found a use for virtual reality in developing new treatments for cancer: by studying tumors up close in 3D with a VR headset.

Where VR is often used to prepare for surgery, AR can play a more prominent role on the operation table. For example, an Israeli startup called Augmedics is currently working on augmented reality headsets for surgeons performing spinal surgery.

2. Medical Training

Six out of ten physicians in the US already use virtual reality to gain expertise in surgical techniques that use endoscopic tools. The advantages are that future surgeons gain more experience – which improves the time required to perform procedures, with fewer errors – and, perhaps more importantly, it improves patients outcome considerably.

Companies such as 3D Systems, Level Ex and Osso VR make it possible for today’s training to happen in a VR operating room. Combinations of reality and simulation are even better, according to Darryl S. Weiman, professor of Surgery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, where they are “finishing a new building devoted to simulation.” Simulated operations offer the possibility to practice – without any possible harmful consequences for the patients’ health and without burdening the fast-paced system where patients have to be treated efficiently.

Training or preparations might be virtual, but the tools used don’t have to be: ImmersiveTouch, for example, offers equipment that provides force feedback. For a surgeon it would mean not just virtually seeing the broken bone they work on, but having it highlighted. They will also feel it when touching and can become aware of the sensitive tissue right behind it, something that would be impossible in real life.

3. Patient Treatment

Some of the most spectacular breakthrough cases of XR in healthcare have come from the use cases for patient treatment and care. Some of these, like Isobar’s Common Ground VR, are even built for caretakers instead of patients. Common Ground VR simulates what it must be like to have a visual disability, like macular degeneration or glaucoma. “Playing this game can help not only increase empathy but also help determine what assistance and treatments are needed,” says Leigh Christie, manager of Isobar NowLab Americas.

On the front of treatment, the company MindMaze uses VR to treat Parkinson’s patients, amputees, and stroke victims. Their VR solutions seek to help these patients to train their brain to stimulate limb movements. Another such company leveraging VR is Brain Power, which helps patients with autism. A demo by Brain Power’s CMO psychiatrist Dr. Arshya Vahbzadeh showed a young child making eye contact with his mother, recognizing her emotions and with that bringing his mother to tears: never before she was able to make eye contact in this way with her child.

For military veterans, VR has also shown to reduce PTSD symptoms among those didn’t respond to traditional forms of exposure therapy. Interestingly enough, XR can also be extremely effective in its ability to distract: SnowWorld built a game that allows burn victims to throw virtual snowballs during their often extremely painful treatment. Similarly, stroke and brain-injury patients are using VR therapy during rehabilitation to regain motor and cognitive skills. Dr. Brennan Spiegel is very active using VR and writes: “We preliminary found a 24% reduction in pain after only ten minutes of using a special visualisation called Pain RelieVR, created by AppliedVR and administered via Samsung Gear goggles.”

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS Sept. 05, 2017 (NASDAQ GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Surgeons at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, India have used the ImmersiveTouch Mission Rehearsal® virtual reality (VR) surgical platform to prepare for an extremely rare surgical procedure to separate craniopagus twins who are fused together at the head.

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Since 1952, only about 50 attempts have been made to separate such twins across the world, with the success rate below 25%. To separate the twins, surgeons created a phased in surgical plan. The first stage of the surgery was successfully completed and involved creating an alternative venous channel, expanding the skin and then separating the brain. The second phase will involve complete separation and skin closure.

ImmersiveTouch VR technology was used to convert traditional CT, MRI and angiogram imaging into a 3D virtual environment that allowed the surgical team to see inside the brains and vascular structure of the twins to plan the surgery. Using HTC Vive VR headsets and haptic robots that replicate the surgical touch and feel of a medical device's interaction with patient anatomy, surgeons were able to immerse themselves into a 3D virtual operating room.

“We could see, feel and study connected tissue, discuss anatomy, and examine surgical pathways,” said Dr. Deepak Gupta, Professor of Neurosurgery, AIIMS. “Our team of roughly forty doctors from pediatric neurosurgery, anesthesia, plastic surgery and cardiovascular sciences used the Mission Rehearsal® platform to practice the surgery multiple times and plan the most effective surgical roadmap.”

Pediatric neurosurgeons Dr. Ashok Mahapatra, Director of Neurosurgery at AIIMS, and Dr. Deepak Gupta, who led the team of surgeons, thanked ImmersiveTouch for the valuable pre-surgical insight rendered by Mission Rehearsal®, saying “God bless you”.

“The Mission Rehearsal® 3D virtual reality environment is a vast improvement over the distortions of x-rays and other traditional imaging that can misrepresent the challenges inherent in the patient’s anatomy,” said ImmersiveTouch CEO Dr. Pat Banerjee who led the Mission Rehearsal® team. “It removes much of the guesswork in advance and provides surgeons with a new, more informed and visualized plan of care.”

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CLEVELAND, OHIO Sept. 11, 2017 (NASDAQ GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ImmersiveTouch Inc. (ITI) has installed a revolutionary technology at MetroHealth in Cleveland, Ohio that allows surgeons to practice complex operations in a 3-D virtual reality (VR) environment.

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MissionRehearsal® enables surgeons to practice on a specific patient’s case prior to the real surgery, using information from the patient’s CT scan, MRI and angiograms. Images are uploaded and the patient’s anatomy is reconstructed in a 3-D model. The surgeon can then create a detailed plan in virtual surgical reality. MetroHealth is the first hospital in the country to purchase this breakthrough technology.

The ImmersiveTouch surgical simulation technology represents a major shift in how VR technology is delivered to surgeons. Dozens of elite academic institutions including Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and University of Chicago are currently using ImmersiveTouch to train their residents with procedural modules using a library of generic cases. Ben Roitberg, MD, chair of neurosurgery at MetroHealth, brought the procedural modules and the new MissionRehearsal® technology, focusing on specific patients’ brains, to MetroHealth. ImmersiveTouch Inc. will work with MetroHealth to develop and refine the technology to further enhance the virtual reality experience for surgeons.

Surgeons at MetroHealth can now discuss procedures with patients using the virtual reality headset, an iPad or desktop monitor, showing them the surgical path and additional educational material. “The capability to visualize and carefully plan complex surgeries is essential to improving patient and surgeon interaction,” said Dr. Roitberg. “Integrating virtual reality technology vastly improves our surgeons’ ability to educate patients and their families and deliver optimal patient care.”

“We are the first company in the nation to integrate surgical training, planning and patient education in a virtual environment with haptic technology. This allows your hand to feel the resistance of a surgery and be able to tell the difference between skin, muscle, and bone,” said Pat Banerjee, PhD, CEO of ImmersiveTouch Inc. “We have created a scalable platform for academic and community hospitals with the flexibility surgeons and patients need. The introduction of MissionRehearsal® means that any health system with an operating room can improve surgical planning and patient education, which can lead to lower cost of care with better outcomes.”

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS July 14, 2017 (BUSINESS WIRE)- Frost & Sullivan has given its New Product Innovation Award to ImmersiveTouch Inc. in recognition of its revolutionary surgical simulation platform for critical neurosurgery cases. ImmersiveTouch Inc. has developed a software platform that recreates the feel of human skin and bone for physicians planning and rehearsing highly sensitive, sometimes death defying, neurosurgical cases.

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Frost & Sullivan recognized ImmersiveTouch’s MissionRehearsal® technology that allows neurosurgeons to convert radiology images into 3D virtual reality simulations. Using the simulator, neurosurgeons can plan the most clinically advantageous approach to a critical case in advance of the operation. Once surgeons discover the best clinical pathway that achieves the best patient outcome, they can then use it in the actual patient surgery. Recent research conducted by the University of Texas found that the use of ImmersiveTouch technology reduced surgical errors by as much as 54%.

MissionRehearsal® FDA-cleared technology is popular with residents and newly graduated surgeons and is being used by numerous hospitals across the globe. ImmersiveTouch has established academic research partnerships with the University of Chicago, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins University, University of Illinois, University of Kansas and the University of Texas.

“ImmersiveTouch is honored to receive this award from Frost & Sullivan as it supports our goal of ushering in a new era of virtual reality technologies and services for the healthcare industry,” said Jay Banerjee, President & COO, ImmersiveTouch. “Our surgical imaging platform can simulate a variety of neurosurgical procedures for both academic and clinical applications. We offer improved surgical navigation, a training library of unusual anatomical cases, training curriculums for residents, and quality measures published by leading industry experts. Our vision is to build an interconnected network of surgeons who are proactive in offering the best quality of care to their patients.”

“Hospital reimbursements are currently tied to quality of care and the lowering of readmission rates. The ImmersiveTouch platform offers best-in-class, augmented reality technologies and haptic feedback mechanisms that allow surgeons to rehearse complex procedures using 3D models of individual patient anatomy. These are quickly becoming essential in creating improved patient outcomes and reducing post-surgical complications,” said Tanvir Jaikishen, senior research analyst, Frost & Sullivan.

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ImmersiveTouch Inc. Launches Exclusive Distributor Alliances for China Market

Agreements provide full coverage in China for Neurosurgery and Ophthalmology markets

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, November 7, 2016 ( - ImmersiveTouch, the global leader in virtual and augmented reality software for neurosurgery and ophthalmology, today announced the contracting of two exclusive distribution agreements for ImmersiveTouch products in Mainland China. The agreements with Beijing Beidestar Technology and Development Ltd. and Master Medical Technology Co., Ltd are effective immediately. Both companies will provide specific market coverage for ImmersiveTouch products in neurosurgery and ophthalmology. The agreements call for an initial purchasing commitment for ImmersiveTouch simulation systems.

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“The demand for our simulators in China has exceeded our expectations as surgeons have quickly realized the benefits of patient specific virtual reality imaging. Our simulations for resident training and pre-operative planning and rehearsal have gotten quick attention in this market,” said Jay Banerjee, President and Chief Operating Officer, ImmersiveTouch. “Our exclusive distribution alliances will enable hospitals in China to utilize our technology effectively, efficiently and with full distributor support.”

ImmersiveTouch is at the forefront of virtual reality and augmented reality applications in healthcare. The company is developing a new FDA-cleared digital surgery platform called MissionRehearsal® that allows surgeons to visualize patient anatomy by converting traditional black and white DICOM images into 3D virtual reality simulated surgeries. Frost & Sullivan recently awarded MissionRehearsal® as the most innovative simulation technology in North America. There are currently more than 30 university hospitals utilizing ImmersiveTouch technology. The enterprise software is designed to reduce operating room cost and improve how patients interact with physicians.

About ImmersiveTouch, Inc.

ImmersiveTouch, Inc. is a leading augmented reality and virtual reality software company dedicated to improving healthcare. The result is a digital surgery imaging platform that allows surgeons to simulate and plan critical surgeries using 3D imaging and tactile haptic feedback. ImmersiveTouch is collaborating with physicians, universities, medical societies, and industry partners to establish a new standard of care in surgery.

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New ImmersiveTouch® Technology to reduce critical errors in surgery

CHICAGO, IL, USA (July 1, 2015) – Each year, 400,000 people are killed due to preventable medical errors, which is now the third most prevalent killer in the U.S. behind cancer and heart disease. And the cost is staggering, with some estimates as high as $17.1 billion a year. "The tragedy that we’re talking about here is deaths taking place that should not be taking place,” said subcommittee Chair Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in his opening remarks at a recent Senate hearing on patient safety. To help solve the crisis, ImmersiveTouch Inc., a Chicago based company, is developing virtual reality simulation software to help surgeons prepare for high-risk, complex surgeries. The technology is having an immediate impact as a training device for young surgeons to simulate real cases in virtual reality, similar to how pilots prepare for complex flights using flight simulation.

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ImmersiveTouch® converts patient images into life sized 3D virtual holograms helping the surgeon visualize every procedure. Unique to ImmersiveTouch® is robust and real-time haptic feedback that was developed over the past 10 years through funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH). Haptic feedback allows the surgeon to touch and feel the different tissues in the 3D patient replica. Studies have shown that achieving realistic touch is the holy grail of simulation. “Simulation companies today rely 100% on 3D visuals to simulate a surgical procedure,” says Cristian Luciano, Co-Inventor and VP of Product Development. “Our goal is to recreate the entire procedure as realistically as possible using a combination of 3D visuals and realistic haptic touch feedback. ImmersiveTouch® is emerging as the leader in haptics research.”

“Our product is patient specific,” says Pat Banerjee, CEO & Founder of ImmersiveTouch®. “We can provide a solution that allows surgeons to rehearse complicated cases prior to operation.” Hospital systems such as The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Chicago Medical Center are embracing ImmersiveTouch® as the next technological breakthrough in surgery. ImmersiveTouch® leads the industry as the training simulator of choice at the top medical systems in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Leading medical societies are establishing simulation as part of a standard national curriculum. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS) are training junior residents in the United States using ImmersiveTouch® simulators. “Simulators can introduce residents to certain situations or unusual conditions (e.g., a rare tumor type) that they may not observe during residency,” says D. Farley from Mayo Clinic.

After receiving FDA 510k clearance earlier this year, ImmersiveTouch® is raising an additional round of funding to expand the technology and dive deeper in pre-operative rehearsal. “The mission of our company is to save lives and facilitate more effective surgeries,” CEO Pat Banerjee added. “The closer we are to the OR with pre-operative rehearsal, the more lives we will save.

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ImmersiveTouch partners with medical societies to establish national simulation training for junior residents

NEW YORK, NY, USA (May 29, 2015) – ImmersiveTouch has partnered with the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS) and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) to provide simulation training to junior residents in the United States. The company sent two trainers and a Spine simulator to the SNS boot camps this year. The courses were hosted at Indiana University, the University of California at San Diego, and Weill Cornell Medical College. The Spine simulator was used in conjunction with cadavers to help residents perform an open pedicle screw insertion in virtual reality.

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“This year marks an historic event – neurosurgical simulation is used as part of a standard national curriculum for the first time,” said Dr. Ben Roitberg, volunteer instructor in Indianapolis and practicing neurosurgeon at the University of Chicago.

“There is a growing consensus that the ImmersiveTouch simulator brings significant value in the training of residents,” added Dr. Ali Alaraj, volunteer instructor in San Diego and practicing neurosurgeon at the University of Illinois.

The course was organized and administered by both the SNS and AANS and is intended to introduce junior residents to the operating room and to learn certain procedures such as laminectomy and pedicle screw insertion.

The courses were funded by industry sponsorship from Stryker, Integra, Medtronic, Zeiss, Centinel Spine, Elekta, Depuy Synthes, Biomet, & ImmersiveTouch.

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University of Chicago Utilizes Sophisticated ImmersiveTouch Simulator in Organized Boot Camp for Intern Residents

CHICAGO, IL, USA (January 15, 2015) – ImmersiveTouch provides Neurosurgery residency programs with training simulators that deliver a virtual reality experience for their residents. The Pritzker School of Medicine in Chicago, IL utilized this technology in a boot camp organized by ImmersiveTouch.

Medical school educators use ImmersiveTouch simulators to provide hands-on experience for their students in neurosurgery, spinal surgery, anesthesiology, general surgery, and ophthalmology. "Some of the modules on the ImmersiveTouch® include Ventriculostomy, Trigeminal Rhizotomy, Lumbar Puncture, Central Line, Open Pedicle Screw, and Epidural," said Dr. Cristian Luciano, VP of Product Development at ImmersiveTouch.

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The system has become an integral part of the neurosurgery residency. “Residents do sets of certain procedures, or elements of procedures that require a high degree of coordination, spatial orientation and precision. Where there are many ways to be imprecise and dangerous, this kind of training is really helpful. The machine is objective, and the machine is vigilant. An observer can notice your expression, your general posture, your attitude, and a mentor or teacher can direct you in many ways,” said Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Roitberg of University of Chicago. “But the machines can monitor things the mentor cannot, store it, and then present it in our learning management tool.”

The ImmersiveTouch® provides students familiarity with common open and minimally invasive procedures. Some skills include how to operate the C-arm and fluoroscopic screen, perform VP shunts, and cannulate small and shifted ventricles.

The ImmersiveTouch® is the only 3D simulator that combines high definition graphics with advanced haptic technology called Sensimmer® which allowing users to feel in real time the subtle differences between specific tissues, organs, tumors, and bones. The Sensimmer® software reconstructs CT and MRI images into 3D patient specific and life-sized models of the anatomy. This is vital for residents who want to visualize a real procedure.

ImmersiveTouch first launched the simulator ten years ago as a tool to train medical students. It has since evolved into a platform to enhance patient safety. The simulators have been installed in leading research and teaching hospitals across the globe. Hospitals include: The University of Calgary Medical Center, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Weill Cornell, Kansas University Medical Center, The University of Chicago Medical Center and others.

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ImmersiveTouch Receives FDA Clearance to Take Mission Rehearsal® 3D Haptic Technology One Step Further into Clinical Settings

CHICAGO, IL, USA (January 20, 2015) – ImmersiveTouch Inc. has received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for the Sensimmer® Mission Rehearsal® Software. Sensimmer® is the only patented and FDA cleared software for simulating and evaluating both open and minimally invasive surgical treatment options in the marketplace.

The Sensimmer® software segments imaging data such as CT and MRI scans into patient specific 3D life-sized models. Unique to ImmersiveTouch simulation systems, the 3D segmentation model can be exported to the ImmersiveTouch® Simulator practice environment where surgeons can then “pre-operate” on their 3D patient by using a tactile robotic arm to touch and feel the subtle differences between specific tissues, organs, tumors, and bones.

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Numerous surgeons in the United States have validated the realistic feel produced by the proprietary Sensimmer® algorithms and robotic arm. Surgeons can now concretely visualize their procedure by practicing different techniques before entering the OR. This will result in an ever-expanding library of modules for training and post-operative debriefing.

The Neurological Surgery Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Medical Center has been using the Sensimmer® Mission Rehearsal® software for over two years, and provided clinical insight to the company during its development. There are numerous publications offering substantive evidence that the ImmersiveTouch® simulator improves the likelihood of a successful surgical outcome. Fady Charbel, MD, Head of Neurological Surgery at UIC, is the Principal Medical Advisor for ImmersiveTouch and has worked with Co-Founder and CEO Pat Banerjee in validating the platform. Now with FDA clearance, the simulator will be used to improve clinical performance.

Dr. Ben Roitberg, Professor of Surgery and a long time collaborator from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, welcomed the FDA clearance. “This is a very important milestone. It is key for our ability to use the device for preoperative training,” he said. “It is definitely a major future direction because ultimately, surgical simulation should be done fully in virtual reality. That’s the way of the future, and that’s how training and practice of any procedure can be repeated multiple times, cost effectively, anywhere in the world.”

President & CEO Dr. Pat Banerjee also added, “Our goal is to enhance patient safety and improve clinical outcomes. This is the only simulator that can replicate an open procedure. In the event a less invasive procedure is not possible, surgeons will now be able to use our software for timely and realistic practice.”

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