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Pain Tracked By 3D Computer Map

A 3-D computer map has been developed by a team at Brunel University to help people ridden on wheelchair to log, from home, how they are feeling during the course of a day. //

Presently patients are asked to relate details during their visits to the doctor.

This program may soon change all that. It requires only a standard portable computer that can be uploaded by doctors at any point.

This would enable doctors to build up information on how pain changes as well as the types of pain a patient has. Around 15 people in the Hillingdon Independent Wheelchair Users Group, based in west London, have already tested the device for almost two years.

The device was mainly developed by researchers to help register how a person's pain changed during the day, especially after medication was taken.

Patients will use a standard PDA that costs around £250, to log where pain is felt on a 3D body image. This allows the user to zoom in on certain areas or rotate the image. In addition they can also class their pain as burning, aching, stabbing, pins and needles or numbness, each of which is represented by a different color.

The PDA will store the data and future entries can be added so that doctors can see the changing of a patient's condition.

Dr George Ghinea, a senior lecturer at Brunel University who worked on the study, said: 'We hope this provides a much more realistic view of the whole body for the patients, who say they find it much more natural to use.

'Also, because it uses a PDA, patients can collate the information while they are at home, and they don't have to come into the doctor's surgery.

'Our research identified that a more accurate method for pain visualisation was needed in order for patients to describe and record the pain that they were experiencing, and for physicians to track and better understand patient pain 'journeys'.'

Commercial interest in the model is ex pected so that there is widespread use in hospitals.

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