An Overview of Clinical Applications of Virtual and Augmented Reality


Project Status:
Project Line:
Horizon Scan
Project Sub Line:
Emerging Health Technologies
Project Number:
Effective finish date:


  1. Overview bulletin examining Clinical Applications of Augmented Reality

Key Message

  • This Horizon Scan summarizes the available information regarding virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) interventions for various clinical applications. While the technologies are not new, the use of VR and AR as clinical interventions in health care is still emerging in Canadian health care systems.
  • VR interventions have been studied in various clinical applications, including acute and chronic pain, stroke, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, Parkinson disease, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety and depression, mental health in older adults, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Limited information on AR interventions was identified in this Horizon Scan.
  • There is a wide range of VR and AR hardware and software available that varies in cost and complexity. Much of this hardware and software is commercially available; however, some have been developed specifically for clinical use.
  • There are several VR interventions for various clinical indications cleared by the FDA and available in the US.
  • Many factors should be taken into account when considering implementing a VR or AR intervention, including those related to safety, privacy, and access. It will be essential to ensure equitable access to VR and AR interventions so that their introduction does not exacerbate health inequities.