VRPM (Virtual Reality for Pain Management) is a personalisable virtual reality game that helps patients to reduce their perception of pain during a medical procedure through targeted distraction.
The project is based on the theory of limited attention. According to this, humans only have a certain contingent of attention, which has to be divided among various external influences. Therefore, in order to actively perceive pain, one has to concentrate on it. From this it can be concluded that one experiences pain much less strongly if one is already devoting oneself to another activity. In order to use this theory as efficiently as possible and to adapt the game to the individual person being treated, VRPM uses machine learning. With the help of various sensors, vital signs are measured and conclusions can be drawn about the player‘s reaction to the VR world presented. An AI can evaluate this data and adapt the game to the player‘s individual needs accordingly. The resulting system is therefore constantly learning and improving itself.
Compared to previous medical research projects, which always use pre-existing VR visualisations, VRPM focuses on design and actively deals with the influence of design on the human psyche. For the first time, the effects of colour, form and type of interaction are given great importance. VRPM also makes use of other elements that have not yet been implemented in other studies, such as the representation of individual objects from the physical treatment room in VR. This fusion of reality and virtual reality achieves a particularly high degree of immersion. Many principles found in gaming can be used to achieve the maximum possible distraction and the corresponding high level of pain reduction.