Augmented Reality for CRPS Treatment

Augmented reality can help create illusions for the mind.  These phantoms are usually considered as avatars or game devices, but using virtual avatars in a real enviroment can also help solve medical issues related to pain.

CRPS, or Complex Region Pain Syndrome, is a chronic pain condition. 

The key symptom of CRPS is continuous, intense pain out of proportion to the severity of the injury, which gets worse rather than better over time. CRPS most often affects one of the arms, legs, hands, or feet.  Often the pain spreads to include the entire arm or leg.  Typical features include dramatic changes in the color and temperature of the skin over the affected limb or body part, accompanied by intense burning pain, skin sensitivity, sweating, and swelling.  Doctors aren’t sure what causes CRPS.  In some cases the sympathetic nervous system plays an important role in sustaining the pain.  Another theory is that CRPS is caused by a triggering of the immune response, which leads to the characteristic inflammatory symptoms of redness, warmth, and swelling in the affected area.

Because pain has roots within the mind, non-typical treatments like mirror work can help reduce discomfort.  The group 09am734 group at AAU have developed an augmented reality solution to the mirror treatment.  Using AR, they can simulate work in the opposite hand forcing the participant to use their pain hand (or appropriate limb.)

This kind of treatment can also work for missing limb patients who are experiencing phantom pain.  It’s good to see applications of AR stepping outside of the normal marketing or reality browsers and solve real medical problems.