Technology | August 26, 2009

3D Simulates Radiation Therapy at Birmingham City University

Birmingham City University uses VERT to train students in radiotherapy.

August, 26, 2009 - The Department of Health in the United Kingdom adopted a revolutionary approach to radiotherapy training using Virtual Environment Radiotherapy Training, or VERT, a tool to draw on virtual reality (VR) technology developed by Vertual Ltd.

Now used at 10 universities and dozens of cancer centers all over England, Birmingham City University was a development partner on VERT and one of the first to have the system installed.

VERT allows students to train and experiment in a risk-free, life-like environment, without using actual radiation therapy, even though
students still spend 50 percent of their time shadowing real radiotherapy procedures, workload and capacity pressures in the clinical environment often limit their learning opportunities.
According to Birmingham City University, the VR theater is more useful than originally thought, providing a stereoscopic 3D experience.

Virtual Environment Radiotherapy Training, or VERT, is award winning,
specialist software designed to offer training for radiotherapy students,
nurses and existing staff. It was developed by Prof. Roger Phillips and
James Ward from the University of Hull and Prof. Andy Beavis of the Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. Now VERT is being developed and supplied by a spin out company, Vertual Limited. However, for the software to give the level of realism it was designed to provide, it needs a VR stereoscopic 3D visualisation system. Virtalis, Europe’s leading VR company, is Vertual’s supplier of the visualization equipment for VERT. Virtalis installed and provided training for its StereoWorks ActiveWall tracked system at Birmingham City University.

The VERT system can even do things that real life radiotherapy machines can’t. For example, it can visualize how beams of radiation travel within the body and how this affects the distribution of the dose. Our course has now altered to take advantage of VERT, so that we do one week of lectures followed by a week applying what the students have learnt in our VR theatre. Students on clinical placements also attend dedicated simulation weeks here at the University. In fact, students can effectively walk inside their virtual patient.

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