VR May Help First Head-Transplant Recipient Adjust to New Life

Back in September, we told you about Valery Spiridonov, a 31-year-old man who runs an educational software company from his home in Vladimir, Russia. He is afflicted with Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, which is causing his muscles to deteriorate, destroying his motor neurons, and leaving him unable to move his body. More notably, he has volunteered to become the first recipient of a head transplant.

To be honest, medical history suggests that this procedure won’t likely have a happy ending, but Italian neurosurgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero and Spiridonov are both optimistic enough about it to give the operation a shot.  It’s been suggested that medicine will advance more in the next 10 years than it has in the previous 100, so who knows? Regardless, Canavero has a fascinating plan to help deal with some of the transplant’s side-affects, and his method includes virtual reality.This kind of surgery is uncharted water (unless you count science fiction), so Canavero will do all he can post-operation to help his patient adjust to looking down and seeing a body that wasn’t originally his own. Assisting in that process is the Chicago-based tech firm Inventum Bioengineering Technologies.

“This virtual reality system prepares the patient in the best possible way for a new world that he will be facing with his new body,” Canavero said. “A world in which he will be able to walk again.”

Inventum Bioengineering Technologies has posted some press photos of their set-up, which involves putting the patient in a stand-up harness. It’s not yet clear exactly what will be seen in the VR headset, although we suspect it’ll be slightly more serious business than Conan O’Brien’s recent trip to YouTube’s VR lab.

What do you think of the controversial procedure, or how Canavero is employing VR to help Spiridonov adjust to his post-opp life? Let us know.

Images: Inventum Bioengineering Technologies

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