Case Studies

PhD student Joao Mineiro has been awarded an EPSRC-funded studentship to explore whether virtual reality can be used in the treatment of chronic pain.


Joao was inspired to apply for the research funding after he won a competition challenging delegates to come up with ideas for using the Bath VSimulators facility at its launch in October. The competition prize offered the chance to be one of the first to use the brand new, globally unique research facility which combines a motion platform with immersive projected virtual reality and environmental control.

Cornwall-based physiotherapist Joao attended the launch in place of his PhD supervisor Dr Gavin Buckingham at the University of Exeter, who had been unable to attend, but was interested in finding out more about the VSimulator.

He added: “There were so many people at the event, I didn’t expect to win. I was very excited when I received the email to say I had been successful.”

Joao travelled to Bath with supervisor Gavin to meet Dr Antony Darby, the lead academic for the Bath facility, and Dr Jon Slade, Experimental Officer, and experienced being immersed in the VSimulator for himself.
He is starting the PhD in September, with the supervisory team including Gavin, Dr Will Young and Professor James Brownjohn, lead academic for the Exeter VSimulator. The results of his study using the Bath VSimulator will feed into his PhD.

Joao said: “The literature shows that, currently, virtual reality-based interventions for pain are mainly used for distraction, with immersive environments that people watch or walk around. But there has been little work carried out into how people in pain interact with immersive virtual reality, which is very relevant.”

Dr Antony Darby said: “It’s exciting to do something outside what we had envisaged when this started. I’m intrigued as to the possibilities that this project provides us with in terms of demonstrating the capability of the facility. We’re looking forward to working on this when we finally get back in the labs.”

If you are interested in undertaking similar investigations and would like to discuss a programme which involves using VSimulators, for either academic or commercial use, please contact the VSimulators team at vsimulators@exeter.ac.uk

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