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    Could virtual reality be used to treat chronic pain?

    Virtual reality

    New research being conducted by Swinburne University - in partnership with Medibank – will explore whether virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) could be used to treat chronic pain.

    The project aims to identify who will respond to and benefit from VR and AR therapy to help deal with chronic pain.

    Project lead Associate Professor Rachael McDonald said chronic pain needs to be addressed from both a physical and psychological perspective.

    “Once we have assessed the participants’ quality of movement through motion capture suits, they will interact with VR through two existing programs.

    “We will then ask for their thoughts on the experience and further develop the programs to address their needs.”

    Medibank Chief Medical Officer Linda Swan said Medibank is proud to partner with Swinburne on this important project.

    “This is an exciting step forward in exploring the use of alternative treatments for chronic pain, which affects more than 20 per cent of the Australian population.”

    The study will be supported by experts in a range of fields, from anatomy and physiotherapy, to interactive media and astrophysics to assist with the VR technology.

    The researchers aim to develop evidence-based guidelines and protocols for healthcare providers, when implementing VR or AR as part of the therapy.

    It is hoped this study will allow the team to develop technology that can be used in further research into VR and chronic pain and that can ultimately be applied in a clinical environment.

    The project is expected to be completed later this year.

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