Nursing goes futuristic with VR project

0
1135
Head of Information, Communication and Simulation Technology in the School of Nursing Simulation Laboratory at the University of the Free State, Bennie Botha.

Bennie Botha is determined to help take the study of nursing into the future. The Head of Information, Communication and Simulation Technology in the School of Nursing Simulation Laboratory at the University of the Free State, aims to cure cyber sickness in nursing students through a popular virtual reality (VR) gaming tool.

Botha discovered that the experience of cyber sickness, a form of motion sickness by some students, keeps them from taking part in immersive VR simulation that forms part of their studies. He will now try to address this with a VR gaming tool, called the KAT Walk mini.
The tech expert began developing a virtual environment in which nursing students use immersive VR to perform a simulation scenario as part of his master’s degree in Computer Science and Informatics.

The KAT Walk mini, a VR gaming tool aims to address issues of cyber
sickness experienced by nursing students at the University of the Free
State.

“By seeking and possibly implementing the new research, I aim to provide students with an equal opportunity to participate in immersive VR simulation, as it currently excludes people who are prone to high levels of cyber sickness. This means that they cannot benefit from the same opportunities as other students do,” said Botha.

“I believe it can help all nursing students in SA and Africa, as it is much more cost-effective than high-technology mannequins and is easier to set up and access, with much less manual input required to make it work apart from the initial development,” he added.
The project started in November 2017 when Botha first conceptualised the idea. Then he successfully applied for funding earlier this year and received R150 000 to go ahead with his futuristic project.

“I must say, I was surprised when I got the approval letter. I thought that due to the economic status it would not go through, but I was really glad when I got the approval as this is my dream and I love working with VR for health care. The grant has made my dream come true, especially considering that this sounds more like something from science fiction,” he said.

According to him, this technology has never been attempted for health-care education. It is mostly used in military and pilot training and is very popular as a gaming platform for hardcore VR gamers.

“The biggest task is to develop a usable virtual environment that gives students more time to practice and increase their theory and practical integration, which is key to providing highly skilled health-care professionals,” Botha concluded.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele

nomaqhawe@mahareng.co.za