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painstudieslab

Pain Studies Lab’s AI Research at CPS 2018

By | Collaborations, Conferences, Projects

Prof. Diane Gromala, Prof. Chris Shaw, and Weina Jin attended the Canadian Pain Society’s 39th Annual Scientific Meeting in Montreal, May 22-25, 2018.

“Automatic Pain Level Classification with Physiological Signals”
Weina Jin, Diane Gromala, Junbo Bao, Yabin Guo, Tianpeio Shen, Oliver Schulte.

Weina Jin presented results from her research study using deep learning to automatically recognize pain levels from physiological signals. This approach may help to better infer pain from patients who cannot express their pain verbally, such as infants, patients under anesthesia, or patients with dementia.

“Towards a Canadian National Pain Strategy: What We Can Learn from the Aussies.”
Dr. Owen Williamson

An esteemed collaborator with the Pain Studies Lab, Dr. Owen Williamson, FRCSC & President of Pain Physicians of BC Society, presented a talk entitled “Towards a Canadian National Pain Strategy: What We Can Learn from the Aussies.”

The Canadian Pain Society’s 39th Annual Scientific Meeting promotes competency-based education and advocates on behalf of patients with acute and chronic pain by bringing together basic scientists and health professionals who are interested in pain research and management.

Research team lands “best pitch” at Stanford’s VR Brainstorm Lab

By | Awards, Collaborations, Lab Updates

Dr. Faranak Farzan, Dr. Sylvain Moreno and Dr. Diane Gromala, who are studying how Virtual Reality (VR) can help people recover from addiction, were presented the judges’ grand prize at Stanford University’s Brainstorm VR/AR Innovation Lab October 6-7, 2017.

The SFU Research team have combined their expertise across the disciplines of engineering, neuroscience, wearable technology, and health technology innovations to address the issue of addiction recovery.

They were among six teams invited to pitch at the Shark-Tank-like event after being shortlisted from more than 30 entries. They were awarded the grand prize, as voted by judges from diverse backgrounds encompassing medicine, business and technology innovation.

Stanford, recently named for the third year the world’s most innovative university (by United Press International), held the competition as part of its annual Innovations in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health conference, on the theme of Virtual Reality and Behavior Change. The event focused on how virtual and augmented reality technologies are transforming lives, and this year focused on possibilities in mental health care.

Dr. Sylvain Moreno, Dr. Faranak Farzan and Dr. Diane Gromala

copyright 2017, SFU Pain Studies lab; Photo credit: Kathryn Cruz

Competitors at Brainstorm VR/AR Innovation Lab, part of the Innovations in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health: Virtual Reality and Behavior Change conference at Stanford University.

Dr. Diane Gromala, Dr. Faranak Farzan & Dr. Sylvain Moreno won the Judge’s Grand Prize @ Stanford’s Innovation Lab

By | Awards, Collaborations, Conferences

Dr. Diane Gromala, Dr. Faranak Farzan and Dr. Sylvain Moreno won the Judge’s Grand Prize at Stanford’s Innovation Lab @ the Innovations in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health: Virtual Reality (VR) and Behavior Change Conference. Faculty members at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, the Canadian team is exploring VR for addiction recovery in a very specific way, drawing on their combined expertise in neurotechnologies, brain science & VR.

You may read about it more in detail here: https://www.sfu.ca/sfunews/stories/2017/10/research-team-lands-best-pitch-at-stanfords-vr-brainstorm-lab.html

Dr. Diane Gromala, Canada Research Chair in Computational Technologies for Transforming Pain and pioneer in VR for Chronic Pain.

Dr. Faranak Farzan, Chair in Technology Innovations for Youth Addiction Recovery and Mental Health and pioneer in Neuromodulation Technologies.

Dr. Sylvain Moreno, Head of Innovation of Neurodevnet, a Canada-wide research network and National Centre of Excellence (NCE), and Director of SFU’s Digital Health Hub.

Undergrad Researcher Kathryn Cruz presents at 1st Annual SFU Research Journal Poster Competition

By | Other News

Kathryn Cruz is working in a team comprised of Pain Studies Lab and University of British Columbia researchers to supplement research in virtual reality for chronic pain patients.

The research poster, titled “Exploring Virtual Reality Preferences in Chronic Pain Patients: Game Controllers, Genres, and VR Experiences” was well-received at the competition. Cruz received special thanks as the first representative of the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) that submitted to SFU’s Student Undergraduate Research Journal.

This SFU SURJ event aims to promote undergraduate research by providing young scientists exposure and recognition for their work by undergoing a peer-review process. Organizers hope to foster a community of undergraduates who value research while engaging all students in science communication and education.

Photograph: Kathryn Cruz at the 1ST Annual Simon Fraser University Student Undergraduate Research Journal Poster Competition on September 24, 2017.

At the Pain Studies Lab, ACADEMICA.CA demos VR for Managing Chronic Pain

By | Lab Updates, Other News

© copyright SFU Pain Studies Lab; Photo: Weina Jin

Academica.ca visited SFU’s Pain Studies Lab on September 26th to interview VR pioneer Dr. Diane Gromala. She discussed the VR systems that she has been designing, building, testing and deploying at pain clinics and hospitals since the 1990s, primarily for people who live with long-term chronic pain.

Dr. Gromala also shared the scientific data that validates that her VR system is an effective form of non-pharmacological pain control, as well as future work aimed at aging populations, adults and teens who are undergoing chemotherapy and for adults who are recovering from addiction. Serkan Pekcetin ran the VR demonstration while Academica.ca’s camera rolled.

Dr. Farzan, Dr. Gromala & Dr. Moreno: Finalists in the Innovation Lab @ Stanford

By | Conferences, Lab Updates, Other News

3rd Annual Innovations in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health: Virtual Reality and Behavior Change conference, Stanford University, School of Medicine, October 6-7.

Dr. Faranak Farzan, Dr. Diane Gromala and Dr. Sylvain Moreno were named one of five finalists in the Innovation Lab, a “shark tank” style competition for innovative ideas using VR in mental health domains. The Innovation Lab is part of the 3rd Annual Innovations in Psychiatry and Behavioral Health: Virtual Reality and Behavior Change conference at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, 6-7 October 2017.

The triumvirate’s submission in the competition was entitled VR Tracking Risk of Substance Overdose & Building Resilience.

Stay tuned for the results!

Undergraduate Researcher Kathryn Cruz pitches at Fraser Health Research Day

By | Collaborations, Events, Lab Updates

Kathryn Cruz was named 1 of 15 finalists selected to present at the Fraser Health – Simon Fraser University’s collaborative 3rd Annual Research Day. This event aimed at building new research collaborations between Fraser Health and Simon Fraser University. It fosters relationships between decisions makers, practitioners, and front-line staff with academic researchers.

Kathryn presented research titled “Virtual Reality as a Diagnostic Tool to Assess Probability of Relapse in Addiction Patients,” led by supervisors Dr. Faranak Farzan (Mechatronics) and Dr. Diane Gromala (Pain Studies Lab).

“Research like this really aims at maintaining a clinician-patient relationship about their treatment,” Kathryn states, “but simultaneously builds self-efficacy needed for patients to build resilience during their addiction rehabilitation.”

The event was held at Simon Fraser University in Surrey on November 3, 2017. Kathryn was mentored by Fraser Health decision makers and practitioners to help supplement and provide support to move the study forward.

Photograph: Kathryn Cruz at the Fraser Health – Simon Fraser University’s collaborative 3rd Annual Research Day on November 3, 2017.

Partnering to help people with addiction recovery

By | Collaborations, Lab Updates

The Pain Studies Lab will be partnering with Dr. Faranak Farzan and the John Volken Academy to design a virtual reality program to help people with addiction recovery. This program will be developed to assess participants’ progress in overcoming addiction.

The John Volken Academy is an addiction treatment program for young people ages 18-35 and is located in Surrey, BC. After patients leave the two-year residential program, they are often confronted with environments that could trigger addictive behavior or relapse.

An immersive VR system could be used in two ways:

• First, bio- and neuro-sensors connected to the VR system could transform the VR system into an assessment tool that helps doctors determine if patients are prone to relapse, and could help identify triggers that may lead to relapse.

• Second, the VR system could function as part of a treatment (intervention) plan that arms patients with experiences that help prepare them to confront such triggers in an immersive and realistic simulation. In both cases, the VR will help researchers better understand aspects of the brain works in a participants’ vulnerable state.

It would make sense to have some sort of intervention or assessment to see how they are doing, and if we can expose them to an old scenario that would have made them vulnerable to using before, how will they react?

Dr. Faranak Farzan

We know that VR is an exceptional tool for treating many kinds of psychological disorders, from phobias to PTSD. Recent advances in neuroscience means we can create even more effective VR systems that may help with our current opioid crisis.

Dr. Diane Gromala

Study Team:

  • Dr. Faranak Farzan
  • Dr. Diane Gromala
  • Dr. Sylvain Moreno

 

  • Dr. Gregory J. Christie
  • Serkan Pekcetin

 

  • Kathryn Cruz
  • Sungmin Park
Partners:

  • Simon Fraser University, School of Mechatronics System Engineering
  • Simon Fraser University, School of Interactive Arts & Technology
  • John Volken Academy

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

By | Graduation, Lab Updates
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.