Virtual Reality Shows New Promise for Treating Chronic Pain

A recent Globe and Mail article showcases our study to see if virtual reality environments can distract patients enough so that their pain is relieved.  For more information on the study: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-virtual-reality-shows-new-promise-for-treating-chronic-pain-bc/?utm_medium=Referrer:+Social+Network+/+Media&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links

Inside Perspective on Hospital Seclusion Rooms

Seclusion rooms are designated rooms in hospitals and schools for short-term management of disturbed or violent behaviour. Often, the patients involved suffer from psychiatric disorders or come from correctional facilities. In schools, these rooms have also been used with children with disabilities experiencing emotional distress. However, prolonged seclusion can also be a harmful experience. This Star article highlights the work of Gary Chaimowitz and his team who are using a VR simulation of seclusion rooms as a training tool to help staff understand the experience. The team also compares seclusion rooms to segregation cells in jails and prisons.

This seems like it could be a useful tool for staff and administrators who are more removed from the front-line setting. However, I’d hope anyone who has the authority to place patients in these rooms receive training involving a bit of time spent in these rooms.

VR for simulation of health conditions

Here’s another interesting application of VR from the Eurogamer article (below). If VR can be used to mimic the symptoms of certain diseases, then immersion in the lived experience of neurological and cognitive disorders may foster better empathetic understanding of those living with such conditions. This can be both an educational and a humanizing tool.

From RehabTao:

Recreational VR therapy for older adults is certainly gaining traction as the technology becomes more accessible. However, the latter two games in this article demonstrate a compelling avenue for health education. Combining symptom simulation and an emotional narrative in VR, such games can help caregivers and the wider public gain insight into some of the experiences of those living with cognitive/neurological conditions.

Eurogamer: VR has already taken people with dementia to the seaside – and now video games are exploring neurological disease itself

A VR Action Observation Based Approach to Stroke Rehabilitation

A team at USC led by Dr. Sook-Lei Liew is looking to address severe motor impairments due to stroke using VR. The REINVENT (Rehabilitation Environment using the Integration of Neuromuscular-based Virtual Enhancements for Neural Training) project aims to leverage action observation networks to facilitate neuroplastic improvements in impaired brain motor regions. The team’s system supplies augmented visual feedback and embodiment in VR based on users EEG/EMG inputs.

CNET Article

IEEE Short Paper

A new AR system ProjectDR displays CT and MRI scans directly on the body

ProjectDR was developed by researchers at the University of Alberta.

There is other medical imaging software that exists but ProjectDR is unique because it allows doctors to view a patient’s internal anatomy within the context of the body as they move around and rotate in 3D space. The researchers plan to test the technology in operating rooms and surgery simulations.

Presentation – VR for Pain and Health Applications

Back in November, 2017, Dr. Bernie Garrett gave a presentation at the Uniquely UBC: Good for You Games event. Participants were also able to test out the VR environments the research team has prepared for the event.

For more information about this event, including a podcast, slides, and photos, click here: https://support.ubc.ca/events/uniquely-ubc-good-games/

Happy New Year!

VR to Complement/Reduce Opioid Use

Here’s another article about the potential of VR for acute and chronic pain.

“Acute pain is a perfect match for VR,” says Hoffman. “You only need it for 20 minutes and it has drastic effects.” Chronic pain is a different, more challenging problem. Still, he thinks VR has the potential to enhance many treatments that already work. “If you say, ‘go home and meditate,’ not many patients will follow through,” Hoffman says. “But if you give them a VR system and say ‘go into this ancient world and meditate with monks,’ they’re more likely to actually do it.” VR is just a delivery method: What matters most is what the patients see and experience on the other side of the headset.