Translate Summer Student Project blog: Virtual Reality for Chronic Pain Management

This post is part of a blog series about 13 short-term projects Translate MedTech funded in summer 2019.

These Translate MedTech-funded projects let researchers hire students during their summer break to help develop innovative new medical technologies with commercial potential.

Read these blogs to learn about the work they completed.

Name: Alicia Carrion Plaza
Host Organisation: Sheffield Hallam University
Project title: Virtual Reality for Chronic Pain Management

In my current role I am working with the IMPAC VR research lab, led by Ivan Phelan at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU). I have been working to support projects aimed at investigating the impact of using Virtual Reality (VR) interventions in clinical settings, such asacute pain in burns patients, physical rehabilitation, and prosthetic training.

Working with InHealth’s Pain Management division, our Translate Summer Student Project has  focused on the use of VR as part of Pain Management Programmes (PMPs) for patients with chronic pain in West Lancashire.

VR has the potential to significantly impact patient experience by enhancing the benefit derived from current PMPs, and increase the likelihood of patient engagement in physical therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) based approaches.

The benefits include improvement in  physical and emotional well-being, as well as healthcare and pain management, since patients would learn to better manage their pain on a day-to-day basis. 

Translate funding allows us to identify the VR scenarios best suited to chronic pain patients’ needs and examine the feasibility of incorporating the use of VR in a PMP for patients with chronic pain. This will enhance the learning and practice of techniques to help patients manage their pain, and increase their confidence in doing so.

InHealth is well-placed to incorporate this technology into their everyday practice and would provide a body of evidence to demonstrate its clinical effectiveness and benefit to patients over time.

I would like to thank the Translate Summer Student Project Scheme for giving me the opportunity to get a deeper knowledge of medical technologies, and a great experience of working with patients in clinical settings and using VR. This is an exciting opportunity to expand my existing research with a further understanding of delivering trials.

You can learn more about this project and others at Growing MedTech Translation 2019 on Friday 6 December 2019, where each Translate MedTech Summer Student Project lead will give a presentation about their work.