Virtual Reality and Health Informatics for Management of Chronic Pain

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.Sc.
Date created
Approximately 20 percent of people in North America suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts more than 6 months and that persists beyond the healing of its putative cause. The complexity of the disease involves neurobiological, psychological and social dimensions, and as such, there exists no universal treatment for this disease. Besides pharmacological approaches to the management of chronic pain, digital media has not been widely used as a method of treatment in conjunction with traditional pharmacological approaches. In this thesis, I designed and conducted several studies that constituted use of an Immersive Virtual Environment (VE) designed to assist chronic pain patients in self-modulating their pain, and ideally raise their pain tolerance. The VE, equipped with a biofeedback system, gives patients a chance to learn and practice mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). One of the primary goals is to enable users to consciously train their emotional arousal, measured by galvanic skin response (GSR) in a healthy manner. The results suggest that Virtual Reality combined with biofeedback, and in conjunction with well-known MBSR, can decrease the pain reported by the patients.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Gromala, Diane
Thesis advisor: Shaw, Chris
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