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Brunel University Launches Worlds First 3D - Computer Based Pain Visualisation Tool

Brunel University today unveils the World's first computer based, three-dimensional (3D) solution for pain visualisation. The tool will help patients record their own pain, as well as providing practitioners with a way to collect information on patient experience of pain and allows greater insight into the way pain travels around the body.

An initial trial of the tool has been run with the Hillingdon Independent Wheelchair User Group (HIWUG). Specifically targeting back pain, it has secured positive results with patients commenting on the high level of detail that the 3D model offers and the precise navigation control for colleting pain data. The plan is for the prototype tool to contribute to the effective identification and subsequent best practice treatment of back pain - the second most common reason for physician visits in the UK, second only to the common cold.

How does it work?
The innovative pain visualisation tool is displayed via a web browser as a 3D body. Users can log pain data on an easy-to-use PDA monitor at regular intervals. Pain can be classified as: burning, aching, stabbing, pins and needles and numbness with each pain type allocated a colour, which is represented on the 3D rotating tool.

The data is collected and the pain entries can be stored and replayed over an extended period as a rotating multimedia image, providing physicians with more detailed understanding of surface pain journeys.

Benefits to physicians?
Using a PDA sized device, a physician now has the ability to:
• Gain accurate, detailed insight into pain through the rotating 3D image with pain information captured. Additionally, the physician can use the zoom, rotate and drag functions over the 3D patient avatar for pain depth perception
• Select individual regions of the body to describe symptoms
• Observe the 3D model from various viewpoints over various time lengths
• Identify different types of pain as patients code pain type by colour on the PDA (burning, aching, stabbing, pins and needles and numbness).

In addition the tool will enable practitioners to save the details of patients consultations allowing records to be retained for later analysis and research.

Researchers at Brunel University identified that in most cases the only tool available for patients and practitioners when recording back pain were traditional 2D pain drawings. Following consultations with clinicians and patients, researchers decided that patients would be able to better map the pain that they were experiencing onto a 3D Model of themselves, rather than a 2D one.

Dr George Ghinea, Senior Lecturer at Brunel University comments, “Our Research identified that a more accurate method for pain visualisation was needed in order for patients to describe and record the pain that they were experiencing and for physicians to track and better understand patient pain 'journeys'. To this end, we've developed the World's first 3D multimedia pain visualisation software that allows patients and physicians to identify and monitor pain experiences.

“We have been very pleased with the response to our trials so far and hope that the 3D tool will help practitioners more accurately identify the symptoms of back pain, thus helping improve the chance for effective treatment and recovery of patients. We also hope that the tool will be of use in other areas of pain identification such as rheumatoid or muscle complaints. “