Throughout the world and the United States, virtual reality has become more of a household term because of its increasing scope and application. From its original sensorama stage to its current consumer model, the application and quality have improved immensely. Scientists have found ways through virtual reality to aid in our everyday lives as well as improve professional careers such as medicine and aviation. One of the most interesting aspects of virtual reality technology is its ability to aid paraplegics in their recovery. The exploration of virtual reality in paralyzation remains a continuous study as scientists research the visual, mobile, and audio aspects of the system. The future of virtual reality is promising as it may be able to develop more life-changing achievements as well as become more affordable and accessible to everyone around us. The development of virtual reality has intrigued our group because of its importance to medicine and its potential for the future.Background and HistoryVirtual Reality is a relatively new idea; there was not much movement or advancement until the twenty first century. The earliest correlation to the current status of virtual reality can only be traced back to 1838. However, during this year there was no specific virtual reality product produced. Charles Wheatstone observed that the human eye can take take two, two dimensional, images in each eye and process that into one single three dimensional object (History of Virtual Reality n.d.). It would take nearly one hundred years later for the next advancement to be displayed. This advancement would not only shape the world of aviation forever, but it also gave an idea for modern virtual reality.Flight simulators would end up changing the world of aviation and also spark the evolution of virtual reality in other domains. In 1929 Edward developed the “Link Trainer,” which was a mechanical flight simulator. This innovation would pitch, roll, and create turbulence to give pilots the realistic feeling of flying.The first real advancement to modern day virtual reality was Morton Heiligs’ Sensorama in the mid 1950s. This invention was a fairly large accomplishment for its time. The goal of the Sensorama was to stimulate all the common human senses: visual, auditory, smell, and feeling. It featured surround sound enabled vibrating chair as well as a fan to enhance the feeling of a person being inside the movie. The next step in Heilig’s career was to create the first head mounted display just a few years later in 1960. Even though it was non-interactive and did not feature motion-tracking, it still stimulated the visual and auditory senses. Just one year later the first motion-tracking head-mounted display would be invented, called the “Headsight”. Comeau and Bryan used magnetic motion-tracking for each eye linked to a camera; it still failed to link to a computer as well as the imagine generation as seen in later models.The concept of the “Ultimate Display” was finally brought to life by Ivan Sutherland. Sutherland said, “The ultimate display would, of course, be a room within which the computer can control the existence of matter. A chair displayed in such a room would be good enough to sit in. Handcuffs displayed in such a room would be confining, and a bullet displayed in such a room would be fatal. With appropriate programming such a display could literally be the Wonderland into which Alice walked” (History of Virtual Reality n.d.). The three main ideas he came up with included that a computer should create a virtual world, it should feature a head-mounted display as well as produce feedback, and users should be able to interact with objects in the virtual world. Sutherland then brought his idea to a new invention in 1968. He named this new invention “Sword of Damocles” which was the first head-mounted display that was connected to a computer. However, since the machine was too heavy for a consumer to wear comfortably, it had to be suspended from a ceiling. Virtual reality finally started to take back off in 1987 when it got the name “Virtual Reality”. Jaron Lanier proposed the new name and the name took off, especially in 1991 when the general public finally could get a taste of what virtual reality was like to experience. Arcade machines are where virtual reality first greeted consumers and allowed them to play with less than 50ms of latency. Another place where consumers could observe virtual really was the movie “The Lawnmower Man”. This movie featured a mentally handicapped man who was treated by a scientist who used virtual reality as therapy.The first launches to game consoles came in 1993 when SEGA announced their new VR glasses. The prototype was a big hit to consumers since it featured headtracking, stereo sound, and a wrap around LCD screen.Unfortunately, it was very difficult to produce and never took off from the prototype phase. Nearly the same thing happened in 1995 when Nintendo came out with their own version called the “Virtual Boy”. This product featured 3D graphics, but the console only featured games in black and red and lacked software support. After low sales, Nintendo stopped production the next year. Virtual Reality did not start to regain life again until 2010 when Palmer Luckey developed the first prototype of the Oculus Rift. The Oculus Rift featured full rotational tracking, enhanced graphics, and complete software support. It would not be until 2014 that the virtual reality market was back with consumers once again. Google Cardboard was released which allowed consumers to place their phone in a head-mounted display and use applications on their phone that supported rotational tracking. In March of 2014, Facebook bought out Oculus VR for two billion dollars. This was a huge risk that Facebook took but it brought light to the virtual reality (VR) market. As of 2016 there were 230 companies producing VR products, leaving consumers to wonder what the future of virtual reality will hold.The Discovery Virtual reality has come a long way in its development, and one of its most encouraging applications is the technology that can be used to improve the lives of paraplegics. In its first medical applications, virtual reality was used to create training simulations, plan surgical procedures, and oversee the development of new drugs. It has also been used in psychiatric treatments through desentizing patients using virtual hallucinations. Now, it is used to help paraplegics accept their prosthetics and increase motor proficiency using multisensory stimulation. In the beginning of virtual reality use in medicine, “desktop virtual reality” was used with high-quality graphics that used a computer monitor to display a virtual interactive environment (Shokur 2016). These did not immerse the user in the environment, but was an important first step in development. Next, as other inventions such as the flight simulator were developed, scientists were led to full-body immersion experiences for people that were completely created by virtual reality. This led to training in medical professions, allowed planning for surgeries, and helped medical students explore the human body through a “real” body in a simulation. Another area in medicine in which virtual reality has taken hold is that of treatment of psychological and mental health disorders. This has varied applications in fields such as cognitive therapy, psychotherapy, and treating schizophrenics. Psychotherapy helps disabled children learn at a faster pace, and other uses of virtual reality allow patients to be desensitized from their phobias, although these are still in experimental stages (Tarr 2002). However, one of the most astounding advancements has been in enhancing the abilities of Parkinson’s patients and paraplegics. In a study on how virtual reality improves embodiment and neuropathic pain caused by a spinal cord injury, the findings showed the virtual reality exposure affected leg versus body ownership, showing potential for spinal cord injury neurorehabilitation. Pain perception and leg and body ownership were found to be able to be manipulated through multisensory stimulation. Participants in the experiment were placed in a wheelchair while a head-mounted display was placed on their heads. A video of virtual legs was streamed to the head monitor, and the experimenter stroked the participant’s lateral back in order to create a cortical reorganization. The study found that although the synchrony of the interactions did not differ significantly from the baseline ratings, they still saw success in reducing pain when the participants back was stimulated (Pokez 2017). Table 2 below shows the analysis of the patients’ questionnaire responses and their pain ratings following full body illusion and leg illusion. Additionally, there was significant evidence that stimulation induced stronger illusory body ownership and stronger illusory touch. The research done here has presented relevant information for the design of noninvasive spinal cord injury neurorehabilitation as well as aided in adapting pain management protocols in patients with spinal cord injuries. Scientists continue to increase the communication between the subject’s brain and body, which will allow the patient to generate body movements through cortical communication with the spinal cord. Neuroprosthetic devices will become essential to restoring lower limb perceptual experience, which will lead to an increased success rate of prosthetic acceptance and a better level of motor proficiency. Through virtual reality, patients in one study were able to experience an assimilation of virtual legs as a projection of their own body, which increased performance upon prosthetic attachment. Scientists experimented on how tactile feedback allowed spinal cord injury patients to perceive the position of the virtual leg and incorporate the legs as an extension of their own body. Although this research is nowhere close to reaching its climax potential, the implications are exciting for the future of scientific development in aiding patients with spinal cord injuries. The point of virtual reality is to immerse the user in another world– whether that world is used for medical purposes, video games, or another purpose depends both on the technology that it is used with and how the user decides to use it. This immersion uses video, audio, and movement to simulate the virtual world.Depending on what kind of virtual reality system you have, it will immerse you in the virtual world in different ways, but all virtual reality uses vision as the primary means of immersion. The way this is done is by presenting the user with a stereoscopic display when looking through their virtual reality headset. A stereoscopic display means that each eye is shown the same image, but the images are shown at slightly different angles. This creates depth in the picture when you look through the headset. Another key component of immersion is audio. Spatial audio is used most virtual reality simulations, which makes sound feel 3 dimensional. This is most commonly performed by headphones, but can also be performed by speakers both in front and behind the user. Using controllers that allow you to move and interact with the world are another big part of the immersive experience. Most controllers require sensors that are used to track the movement of the headset. Tracking the movement of the headset will change what the user sees based on where they are looking. Some virtual reality systems are very complex and can cost upwards of $1000, and for some all you need is a smartphone and $50. Some of the simpler virtual reality systems are as simple as putting your smartphone in the headset, and do not require any controllers or sensors to operate. The Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR are the two most popular systems that fall into this category. The Google Cardboard will work with almost any smartphone, and the Gear VR will work with newer Samsung phones. Both of these systems are a great way to try out virtual reality as they are both usually $50 or cheaper, and they do not require anything besides a phone and the headset. When looking at some of the more complicated virtual reality systems, they require more equipment, and they cost far more. With that increased cost, however, comes many more capabilities. Systems like these require a more advanced headset, a powerful computer, sensors that can be mounted on a wall or pole, and plenty of open space. These setups are most commonly used for video games. These systems are not very common because most homes today do not have a PC powerful enough to run virtual reality games. Systems like these often cost $500 or more for the headset and sensors, and if the computer is not powerful enough, a new computer can also cost upwards of $500. Human ImpactsVirtual reality as a whole is a relatively new thing in the world. The idea may have been introduced years ago, but it is just becoming a household item. Many people are unaware of its uses outside of playing video games at home because gaming is advertised in commercials. What many people do not realize is that there are many other things that virtual reality can be used for: including the medical field. There have been many advances in the medical field with the assist of virtual reality in the last couple of years. First, virtual reality is used to help train doctors and nurses in high intensity situations so they are prepared for when the real deal happens. ” A series of virtual environments can be developed which contain different scenarios, e.g. road traffic accident which the first responders have to deal with” (Virtual Reality in Medicine, 2017). Virtual Reality is also being used in the field of paraplegics and prosthetics. It is being used to help patients both regain feeling in their disabled region as well as develop overall muscle control. In a study done there were eight patients who were connected to an exoskeleton that was run by a computer and a Virtual Reality headset. Half of these patients were determined to no longer be fully disabled, and this is just the beginning of what is to come. Virtual reality has also had a major economic impact as the growing industry attributes to many different, large corporations. As competition exists in the market, improvements and quality are being driven up, and prices are pulled down. Additionally, virtual reality products are marketed massively through television advertisements and other media outlets, which is creating a common name for people to hold on to that can only continue to grow.Conclusion Virtual reality has improved an impressive amount over the past ten years, and it has become both a household name and convenience in some cases. Although it is known for its more fun aspects, such as gaming and entertainment, the medical applications are striking in their potential for the future. Between training generations of doctors for the future and improving the lives of patients, the research going into virtual reality may very well soar past our expectations today. Even though the success with neurorehabilitation and therapy is limited and still in experimental stages at this time, it is an interesting and groundbreaking study that will continue throughout this decade and beyond.