For those with chronic pain, the most basic movements can be unbearable. Some patients even develop kinesiophobia – a fear of, or aversion to, movement. Using interactive digital interfaces, the chronic pain sufferer Diane Gromala, professor of interactive arts and technology at Simon Fraser University in Canada, is developing new ways to help alleviate symptoms that could serve as a supplement or alternative to pharmaceuticals.
Through a biofeedback system, Gromala’s interfaces track users’ physiological responses to different movements and mental states. A simulated walk in the woods might cause physical discomfort but, as soon as the patient relaxes, she will see the fog clear from among the trees. Gromala hopes that her system will eventually become a long-term tool for chronic pain sufferers who want to decrease their reliance on fast-acting drugs.
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