Muscle Memory and VR Applications: Simulators in Professional Training

April 14, 2024
VR simulators are now professionally utilized in professional training, offering significant benefits in terms of reducing training costs and increasing safety in the initial stages of learning. Their role in shaping muscle memory, especially in professions requiring precise movements and operations, is invaluable and yet often underappreciated.

Muscle Memory

Muscle memory, also known as procedural memory, is a crucial element of our everyday functioning, allowing us to perform complex actions without consciously thinking about each movement. This happens because, over time, through continuous repetition, certain actions become so natural to us that we execute them automatically. It is thanks to muscle memory that we can effortlessly drive a car, play musical instruments, or engage in various sports, without pondering each next step or movement. This concept underscores the seamless integration of learned physical activities into our daily lives, highlighting the brain's ability to internalize and automate complex sequences of actions, making them second nature (MedVR Education)​.

How Do We Train Muscle Memory?

Training muscle memory involves frequent and purposeful repetition of actions. In the context of manual professions and the use of VR simulators, it's crucial to create realistic scenarios that require precise, repeatable movements from the user. Gradually increasing the difficulty of the task or environmental conditions can also aid in enhancing the complexity of muscle memory, making it more adaptable to various challenges.

Training in virtual reality (VR) offers significant benefits in developing muscle memory, surpassing traditional training methods in many aspects. Primarily, VR training can reduce learning time by 40% and increase employee performance by 70%, achievable through intense emotional engagement and concentration. These factors are key to effectively building muscle memory, as participants can more frequently and with greater focus repeat movements in a safe, simulated environment. Furthermore, VR training participants show up to 275% greater confidence in applying acquired skills, directly translating to better absorption and consolidation of procedures and techniques. Additionally, VR training allows participants to be up to four times more focused than during e-learning, further enhancing the efficiency of muscle memory development. This data, presented by Future Visual, demonstrates that VR offers unique opportunities for faster and more effective development of practical skills, which is crucial in many professional and educational fields.

Professional Applications of Simulators

  • Flight Simulators for Pilots: They are a critical component of pilot training, where even 50-70% of the training can be conducted in simulators. They allow for learning cockpit operations, takeoff and landing procedures, as well as handling emergencies and challenging weather conditions in a safe environment. (Loft Dynamics)​​ (AirMethods)​​ (Student Pilot Community)​.

  • The application of VR and AR in medicine varies widely, from surgical training to patient care and rehabilitation. For example, medical students at the University of California who used VR training to learn a bone fracture repair procedure performed it 20% faster and made 38% more steps correctly compared to students learning through traditional methods (Future Visual). This illustrates how VR can enhance learning effectiveness and contribute to better preparing students for real professional challenges.

  • Automotive industry: Porsche uses VR to educate employees about the components of electric vehicles, and Boeing trains mechanics in assembling and installing undercarriages on new 737 airplanes. (VRdirect).

  • The use of VR technology in welder training is becoming increasingly common and opens up new possibilities in learning and refining welding skills. VR simulations allow for the realistic replication of a welder's working conditions, without the risk associated with direct work on real materials and in actual industrial conditions. Thanks to VR, welders can practice various welding techniques in different situations and conditions, from basic exercises to advanced scenarios such as working in hard-to-reach places or in extreme weather conditions.

Benefits of Using VR Simulators

Using simulators in professional training offers numerous benefits, such as:

  • Reduced Training Costs: Simulators reduce the need for expensive materials, tools, or vehicles.
  • Safety: They allow for training in controlled conditions without the risk of accidents or equipment damage.
  • Customization to Individual Needs: Training scenarios can be tailored to a specific learner or the specifics of a profession.
  • Accelerated Learning Pace: Muscle memory developed through simulators speeds up the learning process, enabling trainees to achieve a high level of proficiency more quickly.

Meta for Education (the largest producer of VR sets) initiates projects that use VR technology to transform education. Through partnerships and programs like "Create with VR," Meta aims to equip educators with tools to create engaging educational content in virtual reality. These efforts are intended not only to enrich student experiences but also to support the learning of practical vocational skills, which may include developing muscle memory through repetitive practical simulations.​ (Meta)​.

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