01/2021 – 05/2021
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that leads to joint destruction,
functional disability and early death. Circumstances such as genetic background as
well as personal and environmental factors can increase the probability to develop the disease.
The prevalence of the global population of Rheumatoid Arthritis is about 1% [1, 2, 3]. To treat
Rheumatoid Arthritis medications are used, which can be divided into three classes: nonsteroidal
antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and DMARDs .
Beyond optimizing medication, it is further essential that patients comprehend and acknowledge
their disease for successful treatment. One possibility to achieve this, is to communicate
the stage and progression of the disease using visual images like a CT scan of the affected areas.
Further, the T-score, a definition for osteoporosis , is used to express the bone density. This indicator
is highly intransparent for patients and therefore only has limited impact in supporting the
education of patients. To reduce the obstacles to understand and accept the disease and its progression,
results of examinations must be made more comprehensible to be meaningful for patients.
Virtual Reality (VR) technology has great potential to reduce the barriers of educating patients
by providing high immersion and three-dimensional representations to the user utilizing
stereoscopic vision. For visualizing disease patterns this can be beneficial, since it enables to create
a more tangible understanding of affected joints. Further, it gives patients the possibility to
monitor and follow processes in their entirety, making treatment safer and more efficient.
Previous research already explored the representation of medical data in VR. The main areas
of application are surgery and diagnosis . The primary goal in this context is to facilitate a
simple and vivid illustration of patient data, to increase the efficiency of medical education and
treatment processes. One example is the training for surgeons to achieve higher accuracy and
better predictability . Other research work addresses the field of preprocessing CT data for the
use in VR to enable realistic representations of medical data [8, 9]. In terms of patient education
only few work explored the applicability of VR. One example is the use of 360 degree VR video
footage to explain technical operation aspects to patients . In order to not only refer to general
information, like technical aspects of an operation, but create valuable individualized content for
patients, it is inevitable to present personalized data (e.g. CT or MRT) in VR .
Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to explore the possibilities of VR for patient education using
personalized data. CT scans of patients suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis are integrated and
illustrated in VR to make the stage and process of the disease more graspable for them. For the
implementation Unity, and displaying a HTC Vive system is used. The main step is the integration
of patient data into Unity, whereby the CT scans must be converted to OBJ-files for the purpose
of embedding them in Unity.
In a user study, including at least ten participants, the applicability of the implemented VR
system is investigated. In detail, the user experience and usability of the system is researched. Further,
the efficiency of different interaction methods is investigated by measuring the performance
of patients. For performance analysis the task completion time as well as the understanding of
disease relevant aspects will be examined using several tasks.
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