Faculty of Medicine

Lund University

Radiation therapy in the virtual world

2018-04-05

Recently, at the radiation facility at Skåne University Hospital in Lund, unique virtual reality equipment, VERT, was installed – the first of its kind in Sweden.

vert

VERT (Virtual Environment for Radiotherapy Training)  is an advanced three-dimensional radiation simulator in which medical and nursing students and hospital staff are to learn and train how to treat cancer patients with radiation therapy in a virtual, interactive and safe environment.

“This provides completely new opportunities for them to learn the advanced radiation equipment used in clinics today, equipment that is becoming increasingly advanced and complex. The first students who tested the simulator were overwhelmed”, says Jan Degerfält, in charge of the contract education course at Lund University that provides continuing professional development in radiotherapy for specialist registrars, nurses and radiology nurses from all over the country.

Today, there is limited opportunity for hospital staff to practise at their own pace, as radiation equipment is in clinical use during daytime, often under a tight schedule.

“With VERT, they can take the time they need to practise during daytime in a virtual world where the machines used at the clinic are replicated. They can adjust the settings and then look inside the patient to see how the radiation is aimed in relation to healthy organs and the tumour area. It’s a whole new way of explaining radiation therapy.”

An educational revolution

For the students, the VERT simulator is something of an educational revolution.

“It’s often difficult to illustrate different perspectives of radiation therapy to students. The simulator opens up a new world and gives lecturers a whole new range of possibilities. The simulator can also help increase patient safety, as it involves the opportunity to test new radiation therapies before the patient is summoned to the clinic for treatment. It also allows us to test whether new treatment techniques are practically feasible”, says Jan Degerfält.

In the future, VERT can also be used to educate patients who are about to undergo radiation therapy.

“It allows us to help patients feel safe before treatment by showing them what will happen. But before becoming clinical procedure, it must first be studied in research projects”, concludes Jan Degerfält.

Contact
Jan Degerfält, adjunct lecturer and PhD student at the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University
jan.degerfalt@med.lu.se

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