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Utilizing Science, Technology and the Arts to Transform Pain: An Update

July 5, 2017, 11:00 am PDT, 2:00 pm EDT
Recorded in July 2017


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(​Pain is universal to human existence, yet it can go awry, as the case of chronic pain makes clear. One in five Canadians experiences chronic pain. On average, they wait two to five years before seeing a pain specialist. This webinar features Professor Diane Gromala, a technology expert who has suffered from chronic pain for several decades. Her research focus is on creating and assessing new technologies that may help people who live with long-term pain. She will update us on the exciting potential of diverse new technologies and interaction design in helping to improve the lives of people who live with long-term chronic pain. She will also offer useful guidelines for non-experts to assess whether technology claims have real value, promise, or are snake oil in new wrappers.


This webinar will offer some fascinating highlights on:

  • immersive virtual reality research: its evolution from alleviating acute pain to managing chronic pain & promising early results for chronic pain,
  • studies in the use of robotics to alleviate anxiety,
  • new developments in using social media to combat social isolation,
  • wearable devices and systems that help motivate: self-managing pain, increasing activity or adhering to prescribed rehab
  • the idea of "The Quantified Self"
  • opportunities and challenges for increasing communication between patients and their health professionals via technology
  • new collaborations among patients, health experts & technology experts —  and common pitfalls
  • the importance of conducting research studies and participating in them as health research becomes more "patient-centered."


Diane Gromala, PhD

Canada Research Chair in Computational Technologies for Transforming Pain and Professor at Simon Fraser University

Dr. Gromala is the Canada Research Chair in Computational Technologies for Transforming Pain and Professor at Simon Fraser University. As the founding director of SFU’s Chronic Pain Research Institute, she brings together interdisciplinary teams of physicians, neuroscientists, computer scientists, media artists and designers, and industry experts who are investigating how new technologies can be developed to address the many facets of chronic pain. Dr. Gromala pioneered the use of virtual reality (VR) to manage chronic pain, and has incorporated VR into diverse health technology systems for patients and health providers who struggle to manage complex chronic conditions. Her work is rigorously tested in clinics and hospitals. Because Dr. Gromala is concerned with making this technology accessible, she is now testing it in patients’ homes. This research is supported by CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research), NSERC (the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada), the NSF (National Science Foundation) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Partially funded by:​


Last Modified: 1/26/2018 3:58 PM