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"At first," Phoebe Hall writes for Brown Medicine, "the images on the oversized computer monitors where Scott Collins, RT(R)(CT), and Derek Merck, PhD, tap away seem as unremarkable as the surroundings: blurry, black-and-white diagnostic scans that only a scientist could love."
She's setting up a contrast between two dimensions and three, between stasis and motion, between the unresponsive and the interactive. It's an apt way to introduce the barriers that physicians at Rhode Island Hospital have overcome by using the Yurt (Brown University's latest 3D virtual reality environment) as one of three novel approaches to treatment. In the case of the Yurt, instead of looking at one fuzzy, monochrome image after another on a monitor, they step into a virtual world to desend the trachea into the lungs, then climb the spinal column to look at the threat a tumor poses along the cervical vertebrae. In the near term, Hall explains, the three new approaches represent a better way to perform diagnostics and plan treatment; just over the horizon, there's hope that they can contribute to studies that will reduce recurrence rates and improve health outcomes.