We covered VR Health Group’s FDA approved applications earlier this year, but the company has shifted its focus a bit. Now offering a suite of interactions to both businesses and consumers, VR Health Group’s goal has become to analyze user interactions with virtual objects for real-time health data analytics.
The company’s work is still Certified and FDA approved, part of the benefit of using the system. Users can even bill insurance for the platform, which includes PC and Rift with software preloaded. VR Physio was the beginning of a much larger effort that is the subscription service of today. Used for both physical and occupational therapy, the new platform offers an accessible and comprehensive application with a holistic view of patient performance.
I spoke with VR Health Group’s founder, Eran Orr, about the system to learn more about the company’s intent and future plans. Our talk revolved around the basics of the platform, but as we spoke, Orr’s excitement for the future of VR was hard to contain. For VR Health Group, VR is a new methodology to track the body in ways we’ve never thought possible. The platform means big developments in medical science, especially in sports and athletics.
Physio tested some of the early concepts the company wanted to quantify, like motor skills and posture. Physio taught the company that there was demand for a baseline of performance, like quantifying our body’s own intuition. So the team took this concept and created 6 exercises on the Rift, 5 on Oculus’ Go platform and as many as 4 that are incoming for the medical sector.
Patients have a set of exercises to choose from and can complete a single session with reporting. Users can also run through the entire battery of tests in a single session, for a more comprehensive baseline report.
We know when we feel good when everything in our body is working well. What if we could quantify those feelings, and use that statistic to help diagnose when something is wrong?
VR Health Group answered this question with a suite of interactions that measure performance and interaction, with validated insights. The kind of platform that a coach might use at the professional level to determine whether an athlete is healthy at the beginning of the season. You could imagine that a pre-season baseline compared to the athlete’s health toward the post-season would give a big-picture view of how someone may perform during playoffs. Even at the collegiate level, where athletes are getting their first taste for advanced high-level play, baselines can assist in recruiting and team-building.
One of the keys to acquiring FDA approval lies in providing statistics that clinicians can use. VR’s one-to-one tracking of motion allows a patient to interact with an application while recording data from their home. It goes one step further in providing clinicians real-time access to this data.
Using physical therapy as an example, VR Health can be an important tool for in-home care. It provides accountability in checking up on a patient’s progress while tracking the hard statistics behind range of motion that doctor’s need to prove a therapy is effective. Feedback within the exercise also stimulates the patient’s desire to complete a goal. The immersive experience of VR provides powerful motivation and context for our goals. We’re not simply earning a high score, we’re completing quests or reaching goals that allow for more progress.
Measuring Our Performance
A recruiting baseline was one of the single reasons behind the 40-yard dash, a simple measurement of athletic performance. Coaches and recruiters have since evolved multiple techniques to test a player’s cognition or game knowledge, but how many look at a player’s concentration, reaction times, or memory?
VR Health Group not only studies these concepts, they collect quantifiable data. “We are also controlling the environment,” says Eran Orr. “With any other wearable, you are missing the environmental aspect. Seeing the user’s interaction within the environment, and measuring those interactions, is far more valuable than any kind of sensor we know of simply because sensors miss the cause of that interaction.”
Not only can VR Health measure these basic data points, it can record the difference when switching hands from right to left. It can review performance in high or low heat environments, and account for many scenarios encountered in the real world that affect performance.
One example Orr gave me was how the focus of a particular in-app exercise shifted over time. VR Health designed an exercise meant to measure the range of motion in whiplash victims, or those suffering spinal injuries. They discovered an alternative value in measuring reaction times after concussions and during recovery when compared to patient baselines.
That number, Orr tells me, is now the most important aspect.
“Sports teams are utilizing our platform to create a baseline for athletes. After they suffer from a concussion or any kind of traumatic brain injury, they can compare the progress with that baseline. The coach gets an immediate and clear picture about the status of the player.”
The professional athletic field is now extremely data heavy. Today’s rookie is creating statistical data that will measure his or her lifetime performance for the first time in history. We will understand more about how anything from weather to specific injuries affects a player’s performance, with verifiable data to back up our assertions.
We can now craft more effective treatments or make better strategic decisions regarding how to best utilize a player based on how he or she is aging, or even how health is progressing during a season.
Very interesting talk with Orr about why he founded VRHealth, and what the group’s plans are.
It’s hard to overstate how monumental this is, and both Orr and I spent some time marveling at the progress made in sports medicine. “The human body is complex, and no single application can help the athlete perform better. He needs great sleep, you need to help improve his motor skills, his concentration, manage his pain. All of these elements must work in tandem. You need data to form that baseline, to understand when and how to have this athlete engage in the game. All of that is quantified within our platform.”
What VR Health does is very different from both StriVR and Mi Hiepa. Those applications measure and improve game knowledge and skill, but VR Health is focused on the athlete. With a baseline for performance, we can pinpoint an athlete’s highs, lows and career performance with a statistical accuracy we’ve never seen before. For anyone covering, watching, or playing sports, this is an exciting time.