Virtual reality hasn’t really taken off in the world of gaming the way some people envisioned. It’s just not that fun when it comes to most games. However, VR has picked up a lot of use in other, more productive areas of society, including engineering and the medical field. In particular, Nia Technologies, CBM Canada and the Critical Making Lab at the University of Toronto have teamed up with VR development startup, Gradient Space, to create a new software design tool called OrthoVR, which helps prosthesis doctors design limbs for amputees.
The news comes courtesy of a detailed blog post over on the Vive blog, where they explained how OrthoVR allows doctors to shape prosthetic sockets for patients and then print them out using a 3D printer. The process of using the 3D sculpting technology in correlation with the HTC Vive and the Vive motion controllers is detailed in a simple-to-follow two minute demonstration video, which you can check out below.
According to the post, this is in response to some clinicians, scientists, doctors, and orthopedic specialists not being entirely keen with using a mouse and keyboard in CAD programs to map out 3D prosthetic limbs and sockets for their patients. The blog explains…
“Traditionally, clinicians who work with prosthetic limbs are trained in manual practices, such as plaster casting, sanding and shaping of prostheses. While clinicians can see the benefits of using 3D printing to create materials, often they have difficulty in adapting to the other part of the design process: digital modeling.
“With 3D printing solutions, clinicians are no longer working with their hands – they are working with a mouse. While some can adapt, for many it’s a difficult process. They’re used to touching, shaping and examining their creations, like so many craftspeople before them. While 3D printing makes the production process faster, ironically the challenge of visual design can make the overall process slower.”
This is actually being utilized in third world and developing countries for poorer patients who are missing limbs, specifically in Tanzania and Uganda.
They’ve already adapted the technology to print out limbs at the CoRSU hospital in Uganda.
This is just the next step in the advancements in prosthesis and the intertwining of medicine with virtual reality technology.
3D printable limbs are already being sold with robotic functionality, mimicking crude but similar functionality to the kind of technology featured in Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution. In fact, you can even acquire a robotic prosthetic based on Adam Jensen’s limb that actually moves and functions like a hand from over on Open Bionics, who offer a wide range of robotic prosthetic limbs.