Autism and chronic pain hardly seem likely subjects for video games. But Vancouver-based researchers are using video game technology to help improve the lives of people suffering from both these conditions.
Diane Gromala (top photo) has lived with chronic pain for more than 20 years. And she’s not alone. Almost one in five Canadians, 52 million people in North America, suffer from chronic pain, which Gromala defines as pain that lasts more than six months.
Traditionally, chronic pain is eased by administering painkillers such as morphine, but Gromala, an interactive arts and technology professor at Simon Fraser University, has a different solution. She’s experimenting with using video games and other technologies, to alleviate chronic pain.
Gromala believes that using computer technology will help control costs and waiting times as health care becomes more expensive and as the baby boom generation ages. “Controlling pain through virtual reality therapies has the promise of providing successful, cost-effective alternatives to pain medications."