A video game to treat chronic pain

Data from the Chronic Pain Barometer in Spain indicate that more than a quarter of the country's population suffers from chronic pain. One of the strategies to treat it could be the use of video games, an option that has already been used with other ailments. That is the proposal of TrainPain, a video game that aims retrain the nervous system of people with chronic pain to alleviate their suffering.

The mobile game, available for iOS and Android, is designed to help the player enhance your brain's natural ability to reduce pain. Once downloaded, you have a small capsule the size and shape of a headphone case that connects to the phone or tablet via Bluetooth. Inside the capsule there are two haptic simulators, which are placed on each side of the body: one in the place where we feel pain and another in the opposite, for example, left and right knee, respectively. Once they are in place, you can begin.

One of the games looks a lot like those games in which you have to shoot at colored bubbles so that those of the same tone fall. Only, in this case, instead of colors, the balls each show a number. One of the simulators in the body will pulse a set number of times to indicate what number the new ball will carry once launched. If we place the hapitic sensor on the opposite side of the pain, it will vibrate the same number of times.

One of TrainPain's gamesTrainPainTrainPain

“Say, for example, you feel three soft pulses, that tells us to aim for bubble 3,” explains TrainPain co-founder and CEO Elan Schneider, an experienced physical therapist with a specialty in chronic pain rehabilitation. Scientists have known for many years, but the public is not so aware, that the nervous system has the ability to increase or decrease the amount of pain Sorry, but until now there have been no tools to retrain this function.

As we play, the algorithms measure and learn about the player's sensory perception capabilities and adjust the difficulty of training tasks. The player's success rate in sending the balls to the correct place indicates how well he is responding to treatment and how able he is to ignore his chronic pain.

The game collects player performance data and Schneider says he can even tell if a person is suffering from complex pain by the way they play and the way they your brain processes sensations.

“We compared people who have chronic pain and people who are healthy and with just 10 minutes of playing this game – adds Schneider -, researchers can see a difference between people who have pain and those who don't. After each level, the player receives feedback on his progressas well as useful tips about your health.”

The game was developed with input from a former Google game design lead and a creative director of the popular Candy Crush. According to the developers, concentrating on the game and paying attention to the tactile impulses we receive not only distracts us and releases stress, by increasing the difficulty of the game, it also helps train the brain to cope with pain.