Case Studies

Using virtual reality and multi-sensory cues to understand and treat chronic pain

PhD student Joao Mineiro has recently 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. An initial visit to VSimulators at the University of Bath and the opportunity to meet with the academic team, lead to the conversations around redesigning his PhD project and a subsequent application for EPSRC funding.

Joao is starting the PhD in September, with the supervisory team including Dr Gavin Buckingham, 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.

The literature indicates that, currently, virtual reality-based interventions for pain are mainly used for distraction, providing 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.

This project will provide further opportunities in terms of demonstrating the capability of the VSimulators facilities, drawing together academics from a variety of research communities.

Further updates on this research area will be added to the website in due course.

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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