Mobile devices, virtual reality help treat fibromyalgia patients in Spain

Mobile devices and virtual reality hold promise as a psychological treatment for chronic pain due to fibromyalgia, Spanish researchers say.

The three-step process starts with the evaluation of pain factors, using an accelerometer connected to a PDA via Bluetooth to measure the patient's physical activity. An application running on the PDA questions then the patient about pain, fatigue and mood, and later syncs this information to a computer system at a clinic. Clinicians then can apply a virtual-reality system to help generate positive emotions in patients (which for fibromyalgia, tend to be adult women).

The goal is to help women find new ways to deal with their chronic pain that have a positive impact on their overall well-being and quality of life, the British Journal of Healthcare Computing and Information Management reports.

Each VR session projects images and sounds around the patient to help draw out positive emotions. "The psychologist supervises the group sessions using a system of unique screen projection," researcher Azucena García-Palacios of Universitat Jaume I in Castellons, Spain, tells the journal.

Patients can continue their psychotherapy at home via telepsychology on their mobile devices. "The application is run in the PDA and also allows watching videos on the screen," explains Rosa Baños of the University of Valencia. "The videos are fragments of the treatment sessions with [the VR software], which are used to induce positive emotions during sessions."

To learn more about this treatment:
- see this story in the British Journal of Healthcare Computing and Information Management