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December 5, 2016

Augmented reality used against phantom pain

Phantom pain, pain people experience after a limb has been amputated, can partly be tackled by the use of augmented reality. Scientists at the Chalmers University of Technology discovered this recently.

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14 people with amputated arms participated in this clinical research, consisting of twelve sessions with augmented reality (AR). After the twelve sessions the pain had decreased by 50% and the discomforts they usually felt during daily routines and during sleep had also been reduced by 50%, so the website of the university tells us.

The participants got sensors on their limbs with the ability to recognize signals from the muscles. The signals were caught and analysed, and diverted into motions like opening the hand or twisting the wrist. The participants were placed in front of a TV with a webcam. An arm was projected on the screen and the people could control it with their arm.

Brake with your fist

The webcam footage was placed on the screen and combined with the arm projection using augmented reality, thus making it seem like the projected arm was connected with the person in front of the TV. The people could also race. In order to accelerate they had to open their virtual hands and braking was done by making a fist.  

The results are encouraging according to the university, especially because other methods do not seem to help. Four patients taking pain medication used less medication. after treatment. Six months after the clinical examination, the results were still noticeable to the subjects. It seems the treatment has a lasting effect.

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