Researchers in Spain are evaluating a new method of therapy that uses mobile phones to help manage chronic pain.
Fibromyalgia is a complex and chronic pain syndrome which causes generalized pain and deep exhaustion, among other symptoms. It is a serious public health problem, more usual among adult women, and causes significant negative psychological effects.
In fact, 35 percent of affected patients suffer from depression and anxiety.
“Our aim is to achieve that woman patients learn strategies to face the pain which are an alternative to those they use and which are adaptive in order to improve their physical and mental state and their quality of life,” points out Beatriz Rey, lead researcher of the LabHuman of the University of Valencia.
The method developed by the researchers is made of three applications. The first one is an evaluation system of the chronic pain key factors through mobile devices.
It is based on a commercial PDA and a made-to-measure device. The device monitors the degree of physical activity (accelerometer) and communicates with the PDA via Bluetooth.
The PDA runs an application that offers some questions the patient has to answer three times a week: intensity of pain (on a scale from 0 to 10), intensity of fatigue (on a scale from 0 to 10) and mood (on a scale from 1 to 7; in this case, the application shows a series of emoticons).
The answers to each question are stored in the PDA. When the user goes to the medical office, the PDA can be synchonized with the physician’s computer and the data can be stored in a server.
A new version of the Virtual Reality system EMMA, used to induce positive emotions in female patients, works together with this system.
“The psychologist supervises the group sessions using a system of unique screen projection,” points out Azucena García-Palacios, researcher of the Labpsitec.
Those sessions are carefully guided and uses content including texts, sounds, videos, music and images selected to induce positive emotions.
During each session, the system helps patients to consider a feasible objective they must fulfill before taking part in the next one. Patients undergo treatment twice a week for three weeks.
Patients can use mobile devices, such as cell phones, to continue treatment outside of the doctor’s office.
Source: University of Valencia