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Chicago's Rush University Medical Center is Swapping Pigs with VR for Surgery Practice

Chicago's Rush University Medical Center is Swapping Pigs with VR for Surgery Practice

VR healthcare will no doubt do wonders for humanity, but it’s inadvertently helping animals too.

The Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois has this week announced that it is to incorporate VR technology, using it to train obstetrics (practices involving childbirth) and gynecology (practices involving the female reproductive system) residents learning surgery. According to the Chicago Suntimes, the system will be installed sometime in August and be available to the 24 doctors in training at the site, featuring specially-made software that will be available for use at any time.

While that in itself is amazing, it also means big things for animal welfare. The move will allow the facility to get rid of its previous methods on operating on female pigs as a means of practice. In recognition of this, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) will be putting some $6,000, half the price of the installation, towards its inception. What’s not clear is what VR simulator system is being used, though you can bet it’s not an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive; the system reportedly costs some $75,000.

This is both a big step towards legitimizing VR’s use in medicine and a great example of how the tech is benefiting lives beyond its most obvious applications. The system will allow doctors to practice without mistakes having any consequence on any type of living being. It’s even able to rate the user’s performance, based on time and efficiency, helping them to improve with each run. OB/GYN residency Director Dr. Xavier Pombar was fully approving of the move, noting that it would allow doctors to have more practice and get better as a result.

Hopefully we’ll see similar moves to this one made across the globe as the year goes on. VR might be ready to entertain and enthral us at home, but its applications elsewhere are arguably far more important.

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