Category

Lab Updates

Congratulations to Pain Studies Lab’s Graduating Researchers !!!

By | Graduation, Lab Updates | No Comments
One of the perks of earning a Ph.D.: the Renaissance-style caps.
Here, freshly minted Dr. Jeffrey Gunther and Dr. Mark Nazemi with SIAT Associate Director Dr. Chris Shaw.

Mark Nazemi

Before earning his Ph.D., Mark Nazemi served as a long-time Research Assistant (RA) in the Pain Studies Lab. There, he contributed his formidable talent in music and sound design to VR systems developed for chronic and acute pain, and to the lab’s numerous research studies. Notably, Mark verified what Dr. Gromala suspected: that chronic pain sufferers may have sensitivities to certain sounds. https://www.sfu.ca/fcat/blog/fall-2013/mark-nazemi.html

Mark’s senior supervisor was Dr. Diane Gromala and his committee members were sound walk pioneer and SFU faculty member Dr. Barry Truax and psychophysiologist Dr. Steven Barnes from UBC. Dr. Jillian Scott, a notable expert in the transdisciplinary field of art, science and technology interactions served as the external examiner at Mark’s defence. https://www.jillscott.org/

Mark Nazemi’s Ph.D. thesis title: Soundscapes as Therapy: An Innovative Approach to Chronic Pain and Anxiety Management

Most recently, Mark founded the R&D start-up company, Intentions Lab where he explores “the different ways we can use sound and technology to develop non-invasive ways of reducing anxiety and pain.”

http://theintentionslab.com/
http://www.solidbass.com/

Ashfaq Amin with a version of mobile VR.
We’re not sure why it tested so well compared to much more expensive VR displays, but we suspect that one factor might be that immersants use their own smartphones. Stay tuned for more research results!
AshFaq Amin

After working for several years as a UXUI designer, Ashfaq Amin joined SIAT and earned a Master of Science degree (MSc). As an RA in the Pain Studies Lab, Ash conducted studies about Mobile VR, otherwise known as “Cardboard VR.”

This form of VR display uses a smartphone and is comparatively inexpensive — and thus more accessible than popular VR head-mounted displays (HMDs) such as the Oculus Rift or HTC VIVE.

Surprisingly, participants in Ash’s research studies found that their VR experiences using mobile VR were nearly equal to their experiences in more expensive VR displays. Ash conducted studies among chronic pain patients (plus a control group) in one study, and among “healthy” users in another study.

Ash’s peer-reviewed papers were extraordinarily popular online, capturing the attention of hundreds as soon as they were posted.

Ashfaq Amin’s MSc. thesis title: Effectiveness of Mobile Virtual Reality as a Means for Pain Distraction

Ash now has a nifty UXUI job in Toronto.
http://ashfaqamin.com/

Ashfaq Amin with Dr. Chris Shaw.

Multi-disciplinary Researchers Join the Pain Lab

By | Lab Updates | No Comments

Dimple Gupta joined Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology as a graduate student in Summer 2014. Dimple is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (in California, United States) and a Registered Social Worker (in British Columbia, Canada), specializing in mental health social services program design and delivery, psychotherapy and health communications. She holds a Masters degree in Social Work from San Jose State University and and brings over 10 years of experience with direct patient care, program implementation, development, compliance, and public relations experience with Silicon Valley health services agencies and the government sector in India. Her research interests include technology in organizational development, human computer interaction, and developing computational technology based treatment interventions to treat chronic pain and mental health world-wide.

Mahsoo Salimi joined Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology as a graduate student in Fall 2014. Mahsoo is an architect and holds a Masters degree in Architecture from University of Colorado. She has worked at Terreform ONE under the supervision of Dr. Mitchel Joachim and Maria Aiolova and she was also a visiting scholar at Prof. Nikolaus Correll Lab at the University of Colorado (Computer Science Department). Her current research interests include Responsive and Interactive Interfaces in Architecture, Biomimetics, Human Computer Interaction, Immersion and Tangible Media, Robotics, Smart Materials and Synthetic Biology.

A new design researcher joined the Pain lab

By | Lab Updates | No Comments

A new design researcher, Jeewon LEE recently joined the Pain lab. She and Chao Feng worked as a team to prepare SIATs banners at SIGGRAPH 2014. The design team first designed the banners in Illustrator and sent the data to manufacturers for plexiglass engraving and printing on long vinyl banners. The plexiglass sign grabbed people’s attention and invited them to our booth.

Mobini: Can technology help people suffering from depression?

By | Lab Updates | No Comments

Thanks to her Simon Fraser University Undergraduate Student Research Award, Maryam Mobini has joined SFU’s Transforming Pain Research Group, where she is investigating the feasibility of applying technological means as potential treatment options or interventions for people who are suffering from depression.

Mobini hopes to work with health care experts to develop an affordable non-medical, and non-invasive means of treating North American adults suffering from mild depression and related feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, sadness, and fatigue, in their own homes.

She’s working under Dr. Diane Gromala, director of the Transforming Pain Research Group (TPRG). Mobini says she chose to work with Gromala’s lab because of their area of research.

“Chronic pain has an enormous overlap with depression,” Mobini says. “Depression and pain symptoms commonly coexist, exacerbate or attenuate one another, and appear to share biological pathways and neurotransmitters.”

Mobini was a fourth-year student in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) at SFU when she received the award in 2012. She’s now enrolled in the masters program at SIAT, and continues to do research in the Pain Lab.

“During my time in the lab I was able to work more efficiently and get a better sense of what unique challenges accrue to working with patients, physicians, and specific technologies and methods of communication that are necessary for successful research outcomes,” she says. “I also acquired a holistic sense of what it is like to work in a diverse team, multiple ways to approach issues like depression and anxiety, and how to conduct research from the beginning of a project (anxiety) to the delivery stage of a project which is now being tested in clinics.”

She says she’s looking forward to working with Gromala and the other members of the lab as she pursues her graduate degree.

“As part of the research group, I am developing ideas for the use of technologies that may help with chronic pain and depression.”

Gromala receives NSERC grant for VR research

By | Awards, Lab Updates | No Comments

Transforming Pain Research Group director Dr. Diane Gromala has been awarded a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) grant for research into VR Systems for Body Image and Body Schema.

With the grant, the pain lab has now received research recognition and support from all of Canadas major grant-awarding bodies NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and the National Research Council (NRC).

Pain Archives

By | Collaborations, Lab Updates, Other News | No Comments

Dr. Diane Gromala has begun research in the Liebeskind History of Pain Collection, which are located are in the Louise M. Darling BioMedical Library at UCLA in Los Angeles.

The collection includes oral histories from the pioneers in pain research, along with rare medical books and collections of printed matter, physical objects, written records and other witnesses of history.

Interested in participating in our research studies?

By | Lab Updates, Other News | No Comments
Do you want to participate in our research studies? Study opportunities range from a single 30 minute session to 15-20 minutes a day for 2 weeks. All studies have passed rigorous ethics boards at SFU and University of Toronto. Your name & information will be kept strictly confidential. Current opportunities include:
  • Virtual meditative walk: human subject studies in Vancouver & Surrey, BC; spring 2012. Contact Meehae Song: meehaes@sfu.ca
  • Sonic cradle: human subject studies in Surrey, BC (dates to be determined) and UCLA, last week of November 2011. Email Jay: kvidyart@sfu.ca
  • Sitting meditation: human subject studies Stanford area, March & April 2012. Email Diane: gromala@sfu.ca
  • Haptic creature (furry robot): human subject studies Vancouver, anticipated Summer 2012. Contact Mark: mna31@sfu.ca
  • Social media (with the University of Toronto): human subject studies CURRENTLY: for people who: 
    1. are 55+ years old 
    2. have chronic pain and 
    3. live in the Vancouver or Toronto areas.
      The diary study requires an estimated 15-20 minutes of your time per day, for two weeks. We are studying communication patterns. Participants will receive $10. each week when they turn in their weekly diary. Email Jessica: jessica@taglab.ca.
  • Virtual Reality, Art Therapy: we are seeking art therapists to participate in interviews spring 2012. Any geographic location in North America. Please contact Meehae Song: meehaes@sfu.ca