Thursday November 14, 2019

Virtual Reality can reduce phantom pain felt by paralysed people

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Paralysed Human
Virtual Reality can reduce phantom pain felt by paralysed people

London, Oct 31’2017: Scientists have shown that virtual reality (VR) can help reduce phantom body pain in paraplegics and and create the illusion that they can feel their paralysed legs being touched again.

“We managed to provoke an illusion: the illusion that the subject’s legs were being lightly tapped, when in fact the subject was actually being tapped on the back, above the spinal cord lesion,” said lead author of the study Olaf Blanke from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

“When we did this, the subjects also reported that their pain had diminished,” Blanke added.

The results published in the journal Neurology could one day translate into therapies to reduce chronic pain in paraplegics.

Paraplegia is often accompanied by neuropathic pain due to the spinal cord lesion.

The patient feels pain originating from the legs, even though nothing else can be felt below the lesion.

The sensation of pain is real and yet completely resistant to drug therapy.

The new research shows that virtual reality may be the key to providing relief for this type of pain, and the solution comes from restoring a sense of touch.

“We tapped the back of the subject near the shoulders and the subject experienced the illusion that the tapping originated from the paralysed legs,” said Polona Pozeg, co-author of the study and now a neuroscientist at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) in Switzerland.

“This is because the subject also received visual stimuli of dummy legs being tapped, viewed through the virtual reality headset, so the subject saw them immersively as his or her own legs,” Pozeg added.(IANS)

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Artificial Skin Made of Silicon Helps In Enhanced VR Experience

Scientists have developed a soft, flexible artificial skin made of silicone and electrodes that can help in rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality

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AI Skin, silicon, Virtual Reality, VR
This is ideal for wearable applications, such as for testing a patient's proprioception in medical applications. VOA

Scientists have developed a soft, flexible artificial skin made of silicone and electrodes that can help in rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality (VR).

Just like our senses of hearing and vision, our sense of touch plays an important role in how we perceive and interact with the world around us.

The skin’s system of soft sensors and actuators enable the artificial skin to conform to the exact shape of a wearer’s wrist, for example, and provide haptic feedback in the form of pressure and vibration.

Strain sensors continuously measure the skin’s deformation so that the haptic feedback can be adjusted in real time to produce a sense of touch that’s as realistic as possible, said the team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

“This is the first time we have developed an entirely soft artificial skin where both sensors and actuators are integrated,” said Harshal Sonar, the study’s lead author.

“This is ideal for wearable applications, such as for testing a patient’s proprioception in medical applications,” said Sonar, in the journal Soft Robotics.

AI Skin, silicon, Virtual Reality, VR
To develop the device that can quickly determine a skin lesion’s depth and potential malignancy without using a scalpel. Pixabay

The artificial skin can be stretched up to four times its original length for up to a million cycles. That makes it particularly attractive for a number of real-world applications.

For now, the scientists have tested it on users’ fingers and are still making improvements to the technology.

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“The next step will be to develop a fully wearable prototype for applications in rehabilitation and virtual and Augmented Reality (AR),” said Sonar. (IANS)