Category Archive: Other News

Apr 17

SFU’s Pain Studies Lab at ‘Medicine Meets VR’ Conference



Pain Studies Lab members presented results of their research at the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality (MMVR) 2016 conference in Los Angeles, April 7-9. MMVR is an international scientific forum on advanced computer-based technologies for medical care and education. Its participants are scientists, engineers, physicians, educators, students, military and industry members, and healthcare futurists.

Dr. Chris Shaw presented a talk entitled “Usability Comparisons of Head-Mounted vs. Stereoscopic Desktop Displays in a Virtual Reality Environment with Pain Patients,” an investigation of simulator sickness in VR displays when used specifically by pain patients. Weina Jin introduced the results of a clinical study involving VR as a method of pain distraction. The study examined the efficacy of a VR “game” designed at the Pain Lab specifically for people who live with long-term chronic pain. An example of a “serious game,” the study demonstrated that it is an effective method of pain distraction.

This and other studies were limited to measuring the short-term analgesic effects of VR, but according to Dr. Gromala, who heads the Pain Studies Lab, “chronic pain patients have multiple needs for pain relief,” in the short-term, during times of ‘breakthrough pain,’ and over long periods of time. She adds, “while we developed a new paradigm for VR that we hope may prove useful for the long-term, we are committed to discovering the ways that VR — or any technology — can help.”

Ashfaq Amin presented “Immersion in Cardboard VR Compared to a Traditional Head-Mounted Display.” This poster describes a study conducted among 30 participants who used 3 different VR displays — Cardboard VR, Oculus Rift DK2, and Desktop. Participants in the study played the same VR game, and their experience of immersion was recorded using an Immersive Experience Questionnaire. Surprisingly, the results showed that Cardboard VR, despite its low resolution, performs almost as well as the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD). Ashfaq, who is exploring affordable mobile VR technologies for pain self-management, carried home a best poster award for his work.

The findings of these studies were presented by individual researchers, but are the result of a team of interdisciplinary researchers in SFU’s Pain Studies Lab. The research was made possible by support from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Canada Research Chair Program, NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada), NCE-GRAND, and Simon Fraser University; pain experts Dr. Pamela Squire, Dr. Owen Williamson and Dr. Brenda Lau; and patients/members of British Columbia’s non-profit organization PainBC.

Feb 24

We were at SPIE 2016

Dr. Gromala, Dr. Shaw and our new member PhD. candidate Servet Ulas was at SPIE 2016, presenting. The paper presented in the panel chaired by Ian McDowall was Mobius Floe: an Immersive Virtual Reality Game for Pain Distraction. After a brief overview of our work and what Chronic Pain is and how Pain Distraction works explained by the attention capacity theory, Servet explained the game mechanics and the design decisions involved in the creation of Mobius Floe, how the metaphors employed in the conception of the gameworld may help with the explanation of a complex affliction that can only be managed with a biopsychosocial approach.

Oct 13

Tyler Fox “hooded” by senior supervisor Dr. Gromala

As part of the tradition of earning a PhD, Tyler Fox was “hooded” by his senior supervisor Dr. Gromala at SFU’s Fall Convocation ceremonies in October. PhDs earn the degree and additions to the graduation gear, namely, a long silken hood and a Renaissance-looking cap. Dr. Fox is now on faculty and is the Studio Director for the 
Interactive Media Design program at the University of Washington.


Sep 02

Pain Studies Lab celebrates Tong’s graduate thesis completion

Xin Tong successfully defended her M.Sc. thesis defence under supervisor Dr. Diane Gromala at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University in August 2015.Tong’s thesis is titled “Encouraging Physical Activity with Gamification Approaches: Goal-setting, Social Community, and “FitPet” Game-based Mobile Application.” It focuses on investigating the effectiveness of certain gamification approaches for encouraging physical activity. Tong also developed the mobile interactive game — FitPet. The game associates the player’s physical activity (steps) to his/her virtual pet’s health condition and the growth level. She then compared it with two other common gamification strategies in a six-week field study. Results revealed that social interaction was the most effective one under certain condition among all three approaches. Although participants’ physical activity level in FitPetgroup did not have significant difference compared to the control group, participants liked the game and they gave suggestions to make the game more engaging. In her thesis, Tong also offers design implications for developing future gamification strategies for promoting physical activity, which are summarized from her interviews with the participants. Later, Pain Studies Lab researchers got together to celebrate Tong’s thesis completion.

Left to right:
Ashfaq Amin, Weina Jin, Dimple Gupta, Abhishek Gupta, Mahsoo Salimi
Mine, Servet Ulas, Xin Tong, Dr. Diane Gromala, Dr. Chris Shaw, Gillian Ramsay


Aug 31

Two graduate researchers join Pain Studies Lab in Fall, 2015

Servet Ulaş, digital artist and Weina Jin, digital health professional will join the Pain Studies Lab in Fall, 2015. Servet Ulaş is a Ph.D. graduate student from Istanbul, Turkey. He received his M.A. degree in Visual Communication Design from Sabanci University, under supervision of Dr. Elif Ayiter. He has industry experience as a digital art director in the advertising sector and more recently as an augmented reality creative developer. His research interests are in the areas of interaction design, game design, physical computing and bodily interaction. Weina is currently pursuing M.Sc. under the supervision of Dr.Diane Gromala. She holds a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from Peking University. Before joining the Pain Lab, she received two-years’ neurology residency training in Peking University First Hospital. She has also designed physician-patient communication application in a mobile health startup and is the founder of a non-profit medical website. Her research interests are in developing health-related VR, serious game and HCI.

Aug 31

Tyler Fox from Pain Studies Lab is now Assistant Professor at University of Washington

Tyler Fox, PhD. successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis defence under supervisor Dr. Diane Gromala at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University in summer 2015. In his thesis titled “Transductive Praxis in BioArt: Relational Ontology and Aesthetics of Nonhuman Experience,” Tyler explores how art can help work against anthropocentric conceptions of the world. Tyler is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington.


Aug 26

Pain Studies Lab researchers attended Body-Voice-Space Boot Camp

Pain Studies Lab researchers Dimple Gupta and Weina Jin attended an intensive two-day voice and presentation skills boot camp in August, 2015 at Simon Fraser University. This workshop encourages participants to explore breath, projection, gesture and movement in delivering effective presentations. It offers tools, resources and skills to refine one’s personal practice.

Aug 24

Pain Studies Lab researcher becomes a certified Program Leader

Pain Studies Lab researcher Weina Jin attended University of Victoria 4-day Program Leader Training on chronic disease self-management in August, 2015. She is now a certified Program Leader for conducting six week self-management workshops in the community. The six week workshops are offered to the public free of charge, run for 2.5 hours each week, and provide information and tools that encourage participants to take an active role in managing their chronic disease.

Aug 22

Pain Studies Lab at ISEA, 2015

The Pain Studies Lab at Simon Fraser University attended the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), 2015 in Vancouver. Diane Gromala, Pain Studies Lab founder and Chronic Pain Research Institute Director presented her research at a pain panel discussion. Other experts on the panel joining Gromala were Ståhl Stenslie and Christa Sommerer. Gromala has lived experience with chronic pain for over two decades, and conducts multi-disciplinary research at Simon Fraser University for “Transforming Pain.”

Gromala seen below with the Pain Studies Lab team at ISEA, 2015.

Jun 30

SFU’s Digital Health Hub

digitalhealthhubThrough SFU’s partnerships with Fraser Health and other health organizations, the SFU’s Digital Health Hub solves real health problems with digital solutions. The group is headed by Maryam Sadeghi, the CEO of MetaOptima Technology Inc. She completed her PhD at SFU in Computing Science and earned numerous awards for her work. She developed an application for helping detect skin cancer.


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