Virtual reality (VR) has revolutionized medical and allied health education by offering students and professionals an immersive and interactive learning experience by providing students with a safe and controlled environment for practice, increasing confidence, and reducing errors. However, failing to follow proper hygiene and safety measures in VR can lead to significant health consequences. Hygiene has especially become a top priority in medical education due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
For example, sharing headsets or not cleaning VR devices can increase the risk of transmitting viruses and bacteria.
Today's article will discuss best practices and technologies for maintaining hygiene and safety in VR environments.
Sanitary wipes kill germs and bacteria on surfaces, including VR headsets and controllers, thus preventing the spread of infections. Medical and allied health institutions often share VR headsets and controllers among multiple students, which can lead to the accumulation of dirt and grime.
Sanitary wipes can help maintain the cleanliness of the equipment, extending their lifespan and preventing malfunctions. Using sanitary wipes correctly can streamline the process and prevent complications.
Users should allow the equipment to air dry before using it again to ensure that all the cleaning solution has evaporated. Make sure to dispose of used wipes properly in a trash bin to prevent litter and contamination.
A 2022 study evaluated the effectiveness of isopropyl alcohol and non-alcohol quarternary ammonium wipes on disinfecting virtual reality devices, including the Meta Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest-2. Researchers found that alcohol-based wipes were more effective than non-alcohol wipes.
Disposable VR Face Masks
Disposable VR face masks can benefit students and instructors who use virtual reality as a learning and teaching tool. These masks can help prevent the spread of germs and viruses by providing a barrier between the headset and the user's face. The purpose is to reduce the risk of infection and make virtual reality training safer and more hygienic.
We suggest opting for masks that provide a comfortable and secure fit. At the same time, choose products made of soft, breathable materials to promote hygiene and comfort when using Virtual Reality.
Likw sanitary wipes, these face masks should be used disposed off mindfully and properly dispose of them to prevent harm to the environment.
Replacement faceplates are excellent products medical and allied health students can attach to the VR headset's front to maintain safety, comfort, and hygiene. You can find products made of foam, leather, and silicone, but choose a faceplate you can easily swap out based on your needs.
In addition, replacement faceplates reduce the risk of infections caused by viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. You can even clean or disinfect them quickly. There are numerous factors to consider when choosing replacement faceplates for VR devices. These include:
- Easy to clean/disinfect
UVC Disinfectant Appliances
HTC Vive Headset in a Cleanbox
Investing in a UVC disinfectant appliance like CleanBox is essential for ensuring the safety and well-being of students who frequently use virtual reality (VR) headsets and related accessories. CleanBox is a UVC disinfectant that kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria, including the coronavirus, in just a few minutes.
The appliance uses UVC light that disrupts or damages microorganisms' DNA, preventing them from multiplying. The UVC light used in CleanBox can penetrate the hard-to-reach areas of VR headsets and accessories, including the foam padding, straps, and lenses, where bacteria and germs can accumulate quickly.
A 2019 study shows UVC disinfection significantly reduces the bacterial load on high-touch surfaces in healthcare facilities, reducing the risk of infections. Moreover, CleanBox's UVC disinfection technology is environmentally friendly and does not involve harsh chemicals.
This makes it a safe and sustainable solution for VR equipment disinfection in educational facilities.
Educating Students and Instructors
There are guidelines and standards for disinfection protocols from various regulatory bodies like OSHA, CDC, and EPA. Adhering to these guidelines is mandatory for compliance and good practice. Medical and allied health institutions have a responsibility to protect students and staff, and failing to implement adequate disinfection protocols can lead to negative publicity, loss of trust, and legal liability.
To ensure a safe learning environment, institutions must develop clear guidelines and protocols for using VR devices. These should include instructions on cleaning and disinfecting the devices before and after use. For instance, staff or instructors can conduct hygiene and safety sessions with students, teaching them to avoid using VR headsets without proper sanitization. Additionally, demonstrations of the appropriate sanitization process using disinfectant wipes, cleaning solutions, and UVC appliances can be given.
To encourage proper sanitization, provide students with VR headsets and show them how to clean them properly. Have students practice the process themselves under supervision, and educate them on the importance of personal hygiene when using VR devices. Remind them to wash their hands, avoid touching their face while using the headset, and sanitize before sharing headsets.
Medical and allied health education often utilizes virtual reality to provide realistic scenarios and improve learning outcomes. However, it is crucial to ensure the safety and hygiene of VR equipment.
Proper disinfection procedures prevent the spread of infections, comply with regulations, and ensure students' safety. While institutions can use different methods, we recommend investing in a CleanBox because it is a superior option for VR disinfection due to its advanced UVC light technology that effectively kills 99.99% of bacteria and viruses and reduces the amount of environmental waste.