Dr Debbie Bean
Senior Research Fellow, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, NZ
Debbie Bean (PhD) is a Senior Research Fellow at Auckland University of Technology and at Waitemata District Health Board in the pain management unit. She is also a health psychologist with over a decade's clinical experience working in the field of chronic pain management. Debbie’s research interests include psychological influences on pain, complex regional pain syndrome, the use of virtual reality technology in chronic pain rehabilitation, and the prevention of chronic post-surgical pain.
Putting the Fun into Functional Activation: VR in the Treatment of Chronic Pain
Functional activation is a central facet of chronic pain treatment, however people with chronic pain often struggle to increase their activity levels and can be reluctant to engage gym-based activation programmes. Virtual reality (VR) technology is showing considerable promise as a non-pharmacological treatment in a variety of medical, psychiatric, and rehabilitation settings, and there has been growing interest in the role of VR as a treatment for chronic pain. Most work so far has used VR to produce analgesic effects via distraction or relaxation, however VR may also be an enjoyable and non-threatening way to help people increase their activity tolerance, perhaps by reducing kinesiophobia. To assess the acceptability and feasibility of a VR exercise rehabilitation intervention for chronic pain, a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) is being implemented at The Auckland Regional Pain Service (TARPS). Findings will be used to develop a larger RCT to compare VR with standard physiotherapy treatment and to identify the mechanisms responsible for any observed benefits. This talk will discuss the current and potential future uses of VR in the treatment of chronic pain.