Automating Pain Reduction Using Biosensors and Realtime Adaptive VR

Automating Pain Reduction Using Biosensors and Realtime Adaptive VR

Luca Bondin (University of Malta, Malta) and Alexiei Dingli (University of Malta, Malta)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3499-1.ch008
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Recent years have seen digital game mediums taking conventional amusement, entertainment, and leisure industries by storm. They have revolutionized the system to the extent that the industry cannot now even dream of doing without this overwhelming reality. The same game mediums that have capitalized on intrinsic leisure aspects have simultaneously focused with equal vigour on other equally, if not more, important collateral objectives. This chapter builds on this concept and discusses work currently being carried out at the University of Malta. The research brings together various concepts synonymous with the field of artificial intelligence and automation to propose the use of games as a means of distraction therapy for individuals undergoing painful clinical treatment procedures.
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The adoption of Virtual Reality as a coping mechanism for patients receiving painful treatment procedures is not new by any means. Researchers have looked at the adoption of VR based applications as coping mechanisms in burn wound care, physical therapy, chemotherapy, dental procedures and in cases of prolonged hospital visits. For example, the efficacy of VR distraction for reducing pain associated with burn wounds has been investigated amongst others by Hoffman et al. (Hoffman et. al, 2008). Burn wound care is considered to be among the most painful medical procedures. Treatment of severe burn injuries often includes repeated sessions during which bandages are removed, dead tissue is washed away, and new bandages put on. Hoffman et al. put eleven burn patients with burn severe enough to require hospitalization in a virtual environment called “SnowWorld”. The “SnowWorld” virtual environment places individuals in a scenario where they are gliding down an icy canyon and could throw snowballs to snowmen, igloos, robots and penguins. Results showed that ratings of worst pain, pain unpleasantness and time spent thinking about pain were significantly lower for patients using the VR distraction tool.

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