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Pain Studies Lab’s Research at PAINWeek 2019

By | Conferences, Events, Publications

On Sept 2-7, 2019, members of the Pain Studies Lab presented 5 posters at PAINWeek 2019, Las Vegas. PAINWeek is a multidisciplinary conference for frontline clinicians focusing on pain management.

PhD student Bhairavi Warke discusses results of the Pain Studies Lab’s research to a PAINWeek 2019 attendee.

Each poster articulates the results of our scientific and clinical studies. Many of these studies are with our long-time collaborators at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada (ARC) and the BC Support Unit, and use cutting-edge design know-how and interactive and/or immersive technology newly built for helping patients with chronic conditions. The research studies that each poster describes is affiliated with a Pain Studies Lab project:

As-If 

The aim of this Virtual Reality (VR) platform is to raise empathy of aging people who live with chronic pain. In this VR game, a player “inhabits” a full-size 3D character or “avatar,” a grandmother who is struggling to accomplish everyday tasks. Players must strive to accomplish these tasks “as” this character. As they do so, their physical range of motion is restricted as their arm and wrist joints become red, and they hear the aging grandmother’s inner self-talk.

Players in the VR game As If “inhabit” the avatar of an aging chronic pain patient. From this first-person perspective, they try to perform everyday tasks as if they were that patient. The goal is to motivate empathy for chronic pain patients. After much testing, the initial version evolved into the VR version.

Tong X, Kiaei P, Gromala D, Shaw C. The Design and Evaluation of AS IF for Sharing Chronic Pain Patients’ Experience in VR Settings, PAINWeek Abstract Book 2019. Postgraduate Medicine. 2019 Sep 1; 131(sup1), 21. doi:10.1080/00325481.2019.1655695

LumaPath

This VR game is intended to promote Range of Motion (RoM) exercises for aging chronic pain patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) or Osteoarthritis (OA). In a pilot study, patients were unaware that the range of motion gameplay in LumaPath conferred about 30% aerobic benefit. The older the patient, the higher the aerobic benefit.

Initially, the designers weren’t sure why aging adults were so enthusiastic about this steampunk-styled VR game until patients remarked that LumaPath’s ship bears a strong resemblance to the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine of their youth.

Tong X, Gromala D, Pam S, Kim D. A Serious Immersive Virtual Reality Game for Promoting Chronic Arthritis Pain Patients’ Physical Activity and Range of Motion, PAINWeek Abstract Book 2019. Postgraduate Medicine. 2019 Sep 1; 131(sup1), 19-20. doi:10.1080/00325481.2019.1655695

Tong X, Machuca F, Feng N, Gromala D, Li L, Aceves-Sepulveda G. Promoting Physical Activity and Movement for Arthritis Patients through a Virtual Reality Game, PAINWeek Abstract Book 2019. Postgraduate Medicine. 2019 Sep1;131(sup1), 120-121. doi:10.1080/00325481.2019.1655695

The Burden of Pain Symptoms

In a collaborative project, researchers from ARC, the BioV Lab and the Pain Studies Lab explored what “Citizen Science” might mean in health domains. Instead of asking people to count birds or measure water levels, the researchers considered engaging ways that citizens of British Columbia in Canada might share their pain symptoms, and how they would ensure that such data was anonymized and kept private and secure. Next, they partnered with Tactica Interactive to design and build a public health data-hub. The protoype web portal was tested “in the wild,” and is scheduled to launch in spring 2020.

Bhairavi Warke discusses an innovative new ‘citizen science’ project with an attendee at PAINWeek 2019 in Las Vegas.

Warke B, Li R, Gromala D, Li L, Shaw C, Gupta A, Hoens A, Koehn C, Currie L, Mamdani H, Cooper D, Loo S. The Burden of Pain Symptoms: A prototype for citizens of British Columbia, PAINWeek Abstract Book 2019. Postgraduate Medicine. 2019 Sep 1; 131(sup1): 10–11.  doi:10.1080/00325481.2019.1655695

The Virtual Meditative Walk

This immersive VR system incorporates bio-sensors and its Vocal Coach teaches chronic pain patients to learn Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a well-validated method that has long been used to help chronic pain patients manage their long-term pain. The benefit of this VR system is the biosensors provide real-time feedback so patients know if their efforts are indeed having observable effects on their mind and body. Pain Studies Lab researchers are now looking at its potential long-term neurological benefits.

In the Virtual Meditative Walk, as patients reduce their stress levels by focusing on their inner states — like their heartrate and breathing — they see and hear changes in the “weather”: fog and clouds gradually disappear, and birds and insects become more active in the virtual forest.

Li R, Warke B, Gromala D, Garrett B, Taverner T. Does Immersive Virtual Reality Modulate Chronic Pain: A Longitudinal Study Design, PAINWeek Abstract Book 2019. Postgraduate Medicine. 2019 Sep 1; 131(sup1), 20–21.  doi:10.1080/00325481.2019.1655695

FitViz

In collaboration with ARC, researchers from SFU’s BioV Lab created and clinically tested FitViz, an app that uses a FitbitTM to help patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA) and physiotherapists to track & monitor their physical activity levels.

FitViz also determines and recommends the frequency and exercise level for individual patients, termed “bouts.” In this way, patients can get a sense of how much exercise is best for their specific needs and can monitor their own progress, while their physiotherapists can follow and adjust their recommendations.

Tong X, Heng T, Gupta A, Shaw C, Gromala D, Li L. FitViz-Ad: A Non-Intrusive Reminder to Support and Encourage Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients with Physical Activity, PAINWeek Abstract Book 2019. Postgraduate Medicine. 2019 Sep 1; 131(sup1), 121-122. doi:10.1080/00325481.2019.1655695

The Pain Studies Lab’s researchers also presented results of VR studies that lab member Xin Tong conducted over several months in Beijing:

  • A study among participants in Beijing exploring body ownership, sense of agency and heat pain perception using VR and Leap MotionTM sensors.

Tong X, Diao H, Gromala D, Wei K. Exploration of Body Ownership, Agency and Heat Pain Perception in Virtual Reality (VR), PAINWeek Abstract Book 2019. Postgraduate Medicine. 2019 Sep 1; 131(sup1), 19. doi:10.1080/00325481.2019.1655695

The research results that lab members presented raised interest among the attendees, many of whom are pain clinicians and some researchers from laboratories and pain research institutes across the U.S.

upcoming

The Canadian Pain Society’s (CPS) Annual Scientific Conference 2020 will feature AS IF, and recent research results will also be shown at the International Association for the Study of Pain’s (IASP) upcoming conference this summer in Amsterdam.

At PAINWeek 2019, graduate student Ruoyu (Gary) Li explains our longitudinal VR “dosage” study design for chronic pain patients who used VR in their homes three times per week, at a minimum.

Pain Studies Lab @ Virtual Medicine 2019 — Cedar-Sinai Medical Center

By | Demos, Conferences, Projects

Dr. Diane Gromala was invited to give a talk at Virtual Medicine 2019, a medicine and immersive virtual reality (VR) conference at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

In her talk, “How VR Cures by Enabling Self-Awareness,” Dr. Gromala discussed her approach to developing, testing and deploying VR technology for chronic pain patients. A pioneer in Virtual Reality (VR) for long-term pain, Dr. Gromala’s approach is the result of technological innovation, user-centered design, and scientific evidence-based research she has conducted with thousands of patients since 1991.

Members of the Pain Studies Lab — Dr. Chris Shaw, Bhairavi Warke (Ph.D. student) and Ruoyu Li (M.Sc. student) — also participated in the conference. They demonstrated LumaPath, one of the lab’s scientifically-validated immersive VR systems for reducing chronic pain through exercise. The team both develops the VR technology and designs the ‘content’ of what patients see, hear and interact with.

Currently, the team is investigating the longitudinal effects of VR used at home by chronic pain patients. As VR has been termed a non-pharmacological “analgesic,” the team is also investigating what the best “VR dosage” is — that is, what the best duration in VR is for the ideal analgesic effect.

Dr. Gromala discussing Mental Health Applications of VR at Virtual Medicine 2019 with Dr. Les Posen, Dr. Skip Rizzo, Noah Robinson & Dr. Jessica Stone.

Bhairavi Warke and Ruoyu Li conducting VR demos.

Pain Studies Lab presents AI research at IEEE GEM 2018

By | Conference Papers, Conferences, Papers, Publications

Weina Jin, a Pain Studies Lab Ph.D. student, presented her research on using machine learning to predict cybersickness at the IEEE GEM 2018 conference in Galway, Ireland on August 17, 2019.

In her 20-minute talk, Weina outlined the challenges of building predictive models for cybersickness research. To address these problems, she and her colleagues used a pure data-driven approach. They constructed a dataset for this problem, collected VR gameplay data labeled with a cybersickness core and built machine learning models. In their pilot study, results showed that their machine learning could model cybersickness in real-world VR gameplay settings. The presentation was part of Session 3.4: Deep Learning Techniques for GEM.

Their full peer-reviewed paper will appear in the IEEE GEM’s Conference Proceedings: “Automatic Prediction of Cybersickness for Virtual Reality Games” by Weina Jin, Jianyu Fan, Diane Gromala and Philippe Pasquier.

The IEEE GEM (Game, Entertainment, and Media) 2018 conference is a platform for disseminating innovative research and development work on game, entertainment, and media technologies.

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.

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.

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!

AS IF competes at CHI 2016 Student Game Competition as one of the Finalists Team

By | Conferences

AS IF competes at CHI 2016 Student Game Competition as one of the Finalists Team

Pain Lab Ph.D. students Xin Tong, Servet Ulas and Weina Jin demonstrated their empathy game AS IF in CHI 2016 Student Game Competition. As one of the finalists they earned a Certificate of Recognition and AS IF also drew a lot of attention from attendees at CHI during the 3-day game demo as well as the final presentation. The game, incorporated with patients embodied experience, puts players in the shoes of people with Chronic Pain to give them insight and have them experience what it may be like living even a single day with this long-lasting affliction.

The ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) series of academic conferences is considered to be the most prestigious in the field of human–computer interaction (HCI) and is one of the top ranked conferences in computer science. The Student Game Competition is a juried track at CHI. Each game was reviewed by both academic and professional experts in game design and development, with emphasis on expertise in the entry categories. The student competitions at CHI continue to grow each year with increased international representation. The competition always draws a large audience at CHI and has also become a major recruiting opportunity for identifying talented students.

Related Publication:
Jin, W., Ulas, S., and Tong, X. AS IF: A Game As an Empathy Tool for Experiencing the Activity Limitations of Chronic Pain Patients. Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM (2016), 172–175.

AS IF is picked up for the CHI Student Game Competition

By | Conferences

AS IF, a project realized by our graduate students, Weina Jin, Servet Ulas and Xin Tong has been chosen to compete at the CHI Student Game Competition. AS IF aims to foster empathy towards patients who suffer from Chronic Pain by putting the user in the shoes of a patient and simulating the physical hindrances Chronic Pain causes. The participant is asked to complete simple motor tasks which involve touching shapes in a given order to reveal a shape. The tasks and the interactions are tied together with a narrative from the Chronic Pain patients perspective. Our team will be demoing and presenting AS IF at CHI in May 2016, see you there!

We were at SPIE 2016

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Dr. Gromala, Dr. Shaw and our new member PhD. candidate Servet Ulas was at SPIE 2016, presenting. The paper presented in the panel chaired by Ian McDowall was Mobius Floe: an Immersive Virtual Reality Game for Pain Distraction. After a brief overview of our work and what Chronic Pain is and how Pain Distraction works explained by the attention capacity theory, Servet explained the game mechanics and the design decisions involved in the creation of Mobius Floe, how the metaphors employed in the conception of the gameworld may help with the explanation of a complex affliction that can only be managed with a biopsychosocial approach.

Pain Studies Lab at SPIE VR 2015 Conference

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Prof. Gromala, Prof Shaw, and Xin Tong showcased the Pain Studies Labs latest VR project and presented a research paper at this year’s SPIE VR conference in San Francisco. The conference is one of the important Virtual Reality conferences for scientists and artists.

Mobius Floe, a Virtual Reality game designed for pain distraction, was demonstrated in the exhibition session, attracting long lines of participants. In the paper presentation session, Xin presented the collaborative paper about Body Image Body Schema (BIBS) and Virtual Reality. In the paper, Pain Lab researchers Tong, Gromala, Williamson, Shaw and Ischen discussed the relationship between BIBS and VR, and its design implications for VR researchers.

[Paper Published]
Xin Tong, Diane Gromala, Owen Williamson, Chris Shaw, Ozgun Eylul Iscen (2015). Theory Review and Interaction Design Space of Body Image and Body Schema (BIBS) for Embodied Cognition in Virtual Reality,” in IS&T/SPIE Electronic Imaging 2015: The Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality. Vol. Number: 9013. Expected Date of Publication: 1 March 2015. (12 pages)