Since 2007, researchers in SFU's Pain Studies Lab have been experimenting with utilizing immersive Virtual Environment (VE)s to motivate Chronic Pain (CP) patients to keep physically active, in part by doing physical exercises since maintaining physical activity is a well-known problem these patients face. For example, for arthritis patients, specific forms of Range of Motion (RoM) exercises are important to maintain joint health, but many patients have difficulty adhering to such exercises. While prior studies using the lab's most recent VE, LumaPath, show promise, many patients reported "feeling lost" in the VE without real-time help. Because this VE was developed to be used regularly, patients must be able to use it without real-time help. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate some of the factors of how patients learn to navigate in a VE such as LumaPath. Despite positive patient outcomes in terms of lower pain rating, greater range of motion, and some aerobic benefit, a problem that continually plagues the use of this virtual environment is that patients have a difficult time learning how to navigate — that is, figuring out where to go and what to do. Initially, an in-game tutorial was designed, but patients found it too confusing, largely because it was in a grey, featureless space; that is, it was without context, and the addition of a social agent did not help either. Therefore, my research seeks to address this problem by introducing interface augmentation to LumaPath to compare the advantages and disadvantages of visual versus sonic approaches. Ideally, the longer-term aim is to develop design guidelines that address some of the issues of navigation in VEs for the specific demographic of chronic pain patients.
Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Gromala, Diane
Member of collection