Using virtual reality body illusions to investigate the interactions between the body, brain and pain in fibromyalgia.
Disease - Fibromyalgia
Lead applicant - Dr Jane Aspell
Organisation - Anglia Ruskin University
Type of grant - Full Application Disease
Status of grant - Active from 15 October 2020
Amount of the original award - £190,344.50
Start date - 15 June 2020
Reference - 22461
What are the aims of this research?
This research will investigate the interactions between the brain, body and pain in patients with fibromyalgia, using virtual reality technology. There is growing evidence that chronic pain is associated with differences in how the brain functions, for example how the brain interprets sig-nals from different senses (sight, touch, sound). This research will use virtual reality body illusions to test brain-body interactions and study how patients perceive the space surrounding their body. The project will also study if virtual reality sessions that change the patient’s perception can help to reduce pain.
Why is this research important?
Little is known about the causes of fibromyalgia, a debilitating and relatively common illness which involves widespread chronic pain, exhaustion and sleep difficulties. Recent studies have shown that body illusions, some of them induced via virtual reality, can reduce chronic pain, but none of these have assessed the longevity of pain relief. This research will test if two multisensory full body illusions can reduce pain in patients with fibromyalgia, assess how long the pain-relief lasts, and hope to understand if the illusions alter how patients perceive the space surrounding their body.
How will the findings benefit patients?
It is hoped this project will increases our understanding of how the brain processes signals and per-ceives the body, and how this may differ in fibromyalgia. This will help scientists to understand what causes this poorly understood condition, which could inform medical efforts to better treat the condition. If the pain-relieving effects of the body illusion sessions are found to be long-lasting, this project could be a first step towards developing a new treatment for use by clinicians or by patients at home.