Oregon Health and Science University trauma surgeons and the video game developers at Oregon City-based Supergenius are teaming up to create virtual reality-driven prosthetic limbs.
During a talk at TechfestNW today, Dr. Albert Chi, a trauma surgeon at OHSU, and Peter Lund, Supergenius' COO, described how the worlds of gaming and medicine are colliding.
Lund says Supergenius got interested in the medical world when he heard that the virtual reality programs were being tested as prescribed medicine. He says that in the future, doctors might be able to prescribe VR headsets for patients with memory or neurological disorders, or for doctors to use simulated realities as pain management.
In trials, Lund adds, "a simulator to distract from pain decreased the need for narcotic intervention by 20 to 30 percent."
Chi, the lead investigator in the nation's first trial on bionic arms for children produced via 3-D printers, says the medical world may soon be able to build the mythical bionic man.
"We're not far off from seeing the evolution of man and machine," Chi says. "We're really there, there's probably just not as much public knowledge of it."
Chi adds that there are "endless medical applications for this type of thing." One of those? Creating limbs that don't mimic human body parts, and thus are more efficient.
"[Innovation] takes people to thinking outside of the box," Chi says. "Function should be the number one goal, not mimicking something we've lost. Maybe it's good enough to just have three fingers."