Realidad virtual e inteligenia artificial, juntas contra el dolor

Technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence (IA) and telerehabilitation are firm allies in the fight against pain, not only to alleviate pathology in patients but also because they can help reduce healthcare costs and avoid hospital admissions and even reduce drug consumption.

La Sociedad Española del Pain celebrated last week in Valencia with its eighteenth congress, where professionals were able to expose and learn the latest news about pain treatment and receive information about tools and technological devices that allow them to help with management.

The objective of the virtual reality applied to pain is to deceive the brain so that the patient, for a moment, forgets what he has, and in moments where he can use it with greater intensity instead of taking an opiate or another medication.

This is explained by Héctor Beltrán, physiotherapist and research professor at the University of Castilla-La Mancha, who during the Congress presented the presentation “Virtual reality to avoid the painful reality” so that healthcare professionals could know the possibilities of use that tiene esta technology in patients with pain.

“The technology has been used since a year ago, we have the tool, but the handicap is that the healthcare professionals don’t know how to apply it”, says Beltrán, who highlights that it is a cheap technology and can reach many patients.

La realidad virtual, affirma, busca “engañar al cerebro” y puede hacerlo en forma de tracción viendo unas imágenes; interactuando con un juego que puede ser disparar a un marciano o girar con la cabeza un coche; o consiguiendo que el paciente use todo su recurso cerebral y su sistema nervioso esté en el juego generando alguna habilidad. Este ultimo es “lo ideal”.

Although the effect of this alleviation of pain is temporary, he explains, “we know that the pain fluctuates and that in some moment of the day it can be increased. En ese momento, el uso de la realidad virtual puede hacer mermar el dolor y que esa persona deje de tomar un rescate, que puede ser un opioide u otra medication”.

The specialist explains that the virtual reality has been used in any type of pain, tanto oncológico como antes o después de una surgical intervention or in burns, aunque su especialidad es su uso para el dolor en el system musculoesquelético, y advierte de que there are persons en las que esta tecnología puede generar efectos adversos, ya que “algunos se marean o directamente no les gusta”.

Although there is not much scientific literature on the treatment of virtual reality and pain, in the case of wanting to relax the patient, they usually put pleasant images, and when it is the case of patients with burns, the technology takes them to a new world. que tienen que disparar a muñecos de nieve, “todo lo contrario a lo que es quemarse”.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can also help to detect human pain with greater precision and even for the development of new drugs against pain, according to Rafael González, doctor of neuroscience and assistant doctor in a research group on pain la Universidad de Granada directed by Enrique José Cobo.

For example, in the case of babies, artificial intelligence tools can be used to detect when they have pain, even before the nurse, to be able to administer the analgesic before what is normally given, which would mean that they would need a smaller amount of medication. para aliviar el dolor.

In the case of the research group where González participates, they are working on the search and development of a medication that allows patients with chronic pain to feel pain, and for that they are using experimental animals (rats) and artificial intelligence techniques.

Tras más de 300 días de grabaciones en vídeo conocen todo lo que hace el animal y pueden comparar entre los grupos para ver qué modificaciones el dolor posoperatorio y si el tratamiento con fármacos es capaz de revertir esos comportamientos.

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