Usability of virtual reality for suprascapular nerve block procedure training

Author: Bryn McComb

McComb, Bryn, 2021 Usability of virtual reality for suprascapular nerve block procedure training, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

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Training can be a complex and expensive investment in most industries, however when you consider the added risks associated with training in the medical field these costs become even greater.

Trainees practicing on real patients comes with issues related to the risk of mistakes and patient confidence in their care. Due to the potential risks to the patient, trainees are also unable to be allowed to make mistakes and have the chance to fix them themselves.

Virtual reality is a technology that has been seeing increasing interest from several industries including aviation, oil and gas, medicine, automotive, tourism, law enforcement, real estate, education, and entertainment. This typically takes the form of simulations and serious games, where gamification aspects are used to interest and entice the user, but the core goal of the program is not entertainment.

This project was designed to examine the use of virtual reality in medical training and how it can help to develop the skills of the users without causing risks to the patients or users.

The procedure for a suprascapular nerve block was chosen after consultation with Professor Michael Shanahan, a Professor of Musculoskeletal Rheumatology Medicine who has also authored several papers on suprascapular nerve blocks. This is a procedure that is used to manage chronic shoulder pain in patients and is not easily learnt without the use of real-life patients. The incorrect performance of this procedure can reduce its effectiveness and cause harm to patients.

To achieve risk free training a virtual reality program was developed for use with the Oculus Quest 2. This program was then tested by doctors to evaluate what benefits virtual reality training can bring to the medical industry. To ensure that users would be interested in using the program a usability evaluation was performed to see what its System Usability Scale (SUS) score would be. A total of eleven participants were recruited and provided ratings for the SUS as well as feedback on any difficulties that they faced during the virtual training.

Overall users found the program interesting and rated it 76.65 on the SUS scale, meaning that they considered it to be good in terms of usability. This score and the additional feedback received showed a strong interest in the possibilities of virtual reality medical training.

Keywords: virtual reality, virtual reality training, suprascapular nerve block training, SUS, System Usability Scale, medical training

Subject: Computer Science thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2021
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: Brett Wilkinson