John McGhee Stroke: Occlusion and Flow

future, health

What are the main types of stroke?

This series of virtual reality experiences focus on immersing the user in actual clinical stroke data. The imagery displayed on the Oculus Rift headset is a direct visualisation of 3D clinical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography CT data. The datasets were acquired from stroke survivors with a history of cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol. When wearing the headset, users are able to move along the arteries in the brain by means of a video game controller. They can follow the path of the red blood cells from the aorta to the site of the stroke. In this series, three of the most common types of stroke were visualised, including ischaemic strokes caused by vessel occlusion, thromboembolism, and a haemorrhagic stroke caused by aneurysm rupture.

McGhee has created visual imagery drawn from the cinematic, directly influenced by the feature film ‘Fantastic Voyage’. The aesthetic experience uses 3D computer generated imagery (CGI) atmospherics and augmented components such as arterial plaque on the blood vessel walls and red blood cells. All of these visual features increase the feeling of embodiment.

Virtual reality model, 2017 
Image: Courtesy of the artist

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The Artist: John McGhee

A/Prof John McGhee is a practising 3D CGI artist, researcher and the director of the 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab. His arts-led work explores modes of visualising complex scientific and biomedical data. His academic research builds on this theme and has since resulted in a variety of collaborative projects across the 3D computer arts, Virtual Reality (VR) and biomedical sciences. Ongoing research projects include MRI and CT vascular 3D visualisation, stroke rehab and cellular visualisation.


VR Lead Developer. John Bailey, 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab, UNSW Art & Design, University of New South Wales, Australia.

Clinical Lead and Rehabilitation and Pain Physician. Associate Professor Steven Faux, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia

Radiologist. Dr Pascal Bou-Haidar, St Vincent’s Private, Hospital, Sydney, Australia

Clinical Research. Dr Angelica G Thompson-Butel and Dr Christine Shiner, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia