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Can virtual reality control pain?

Expert in art, design and computer science Professor Diane Gromala has experienced chronic pain for the last 25 years. Working with concepts of mindfulness meditation–where a patient focuses on their pain to control it – Dr. Gromala and her team have built an highly immersive and engaging virtual reality environment that essentially allows patients to interface with the self by using biofeedback and sensory cues to modulate and significantly reduce pain levels.

Prof. Gromala has also developed virtual reality (VR) for phobias, anxiety, Parkinson’s and for children who were undergoing chemotherapy.

She is the founding Director of the Transforming Pain Research Group. The pain physicians, computer scientists, neuroscientist, psychophysicist, media producers, designers and artists who comprise this team develop new technologies to help the estimated 1 in 5 North Americans who suffer from the “silent epidemic,” chronic pain.

Her current VR work is in use at more than 20 hospitals worldwide.

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