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IDIBAPS (Institute of Biomedical Research August Pi i Sunyer)

XR-PAIN

eXtended Reality-Assisted Therapy for Chronic Pain
Systems Neuroscience-EVENT Lab (Experimental Virtual Environments in Neuroscience and Technology)
We are a neuroscience group investigating the brain mechanisms underlying activity in physiological and pathological conditions. Over the last two decades, we have designed and used virtual reality to investigate virtual body representation and embodiment, its control through brain-computer interfaces, and applications in the fields of physical and mental health.

Project Objective

The project aims to use virtual reality to help people with chronic low back pain, a common and costly condition. It uses a personalized virtual body and a virtual physiotherapist to guide and motivate patients through exercises that can reduce pain and improve quality of life. The project will test a prototype in a clinical trial with 100 participants and prepare it for certification and marketing.

Context

Our approach relies on inducing embodying an avatar in immersive VR using congruent multisensory stimulation, and then changing the physical characteristics of the avatar, including the appearance and movement. We have validated our approach in the lab and in clinical studies over 15 years.

 

We will develop in collaboration with patients and healthcare professionals a prototype of a personalized, home-based therapeutic VR application for patients with chronic low back pain and test it in a clinical trial.
We will help create a more personalized and embodied experience by experimentally testing VR-related technologies including eye-tracking and haptic garments in laboratory settings.

Project Goals

1.

We will develop in collaboration with patients and healthcare professionals a prototype of a personalized, home-based therapeutic VR application for patients with chronic low back pain.

2.

We will test the efficacy of our prototype in a clinical trial.

3.

We will experimentally test state-of-the-art EMIL VR-related technologies as potential extensions of our clinical prototype, including eye-tracking and haptic garments in laboratory settings.

Publications

    

Slater, M., & Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2016). Enhancing our lives with immersive virtual reality. Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 3, 74.

Matamala-Gomez, M., Gonzalez, A. M. D., Slater, M., & Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2019). Decreasing pain ratings in chronic arm pain through changing a virtual body: different strategies for different pain types. The Journal of Pain, 20(6), 685-697.

Matamala-Gomez, M., Donegan, T., Bottiroli, S., Sandrini, G., Sanchez-Vives, M. V., & Tassorelli, C. (2019). Immersive virtual reality and virtual embodiment for pain relief. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 279.

Matamala-Gomez, M., Nierula, B., Donegan, T., Slater, M., & Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2020). Manipulating the perceived shape and color of a virtual limb can modulate pain responses. Journal of clinical medicine, 9(2), 291.

Donegan, T., Ryan, B. E., Swidrak, J., & Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2020). Immersive virtual reality for clinical pain: Considerations for effective therapy. Frontiers in Virtual Reality, 1, 9.

Martini, M., Kilteni, K., Maselli, A., & Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2015). The body fades away: investigating the effects of transparency of an embodied virtual body on pain threshold and body ownership. Scientific reports, 5(1), 13948.

Martini, M., Perez-Marcos, D., & Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2013). What color is my arm? Changes in skin color of an embodied virtual arm modulates pain threshold. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 7, 438. 8. Martini, M., Perez‐Marcos, D., & Sanchez‐Vives, M. V. (2014). Modulation of pain threshold by virtual body ownership. European Journal of Pain, 18(7), 1040-1048.

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