by adgrooms on July 18, 2019

A crucial part of a patient's rehabilitation is transitioning from inpatient to home care. One major factor in effective discharge planning is the ability to give the patient and caregivers a thorough understanding of what the complete road to recovery looks like and their role in the entire journey. In the past, it has been standard practice for patients to receive paper and verbal instructions upon discharge to explain the steps for their continuing care, but technologies like augmented reality (AR) can be incorporated to boost a patient's understanding about their conditions and assist in recovery, even at home. AR allows a person to experience the world around them while superimposing computer-generated images and even adding sounds to enhance their perception.

Humans are visual learners. Visual understanding of a patient's condition and treatment helps to demonstrate their role in their own continued care. AR software can produce a 3D view of the inner workings of the body. This type of view can show how treatment has helped and how the body will look when fully healed. The ability to visualize a healed state provides patients with an additional incentive to follow through with their at-home treatments.

Complex treatments can be explained more thoroughly through interactive instruction by highlighting how they will be acting in the body. Patients can practice application of treatments with AR before they have to administer themselves at home. For example, if self-injection is required after discharge, practice with a simulation of proper injection locations and techniques gives the patient a better understanding of the process and some muscle memory of the steps to foster confidence.

As AR becomes more widely adopted, in-home applications can be used to keep patients engaged in their care. Drawing on the interactive nature of AR, an application for everyday decision making can be utilized to encourage positive choices. This includes everything from proper tooth brushing techniques, changing a bandage, even the aforementioned injection instructions. AR overlaid on routine tasks can make them more fun and appealing.

If exercise is required after discharge, AR can help in a range of motion and proper form of movement. A baseline of desired motion can be recorded by the provider so progress can be tracked as the patient continues self-therapy with the AR at home. To make it more interesting for the patient, exercise and therapy can be programmed in the form of a game to encourage compliance and desire to meet goals.

The potential uses of AR in patient education are numerous and could make self-care as fun as Pokemon Go. What uses of AR for patient education strike you as the most beneficial? What are the limitations of access and availability? How can those be overcome?