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“It made you feel like you’ve still got it”: experiences of people with chronic low back pain undertaking a single session of body image training in virtual reality

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posted on 2023-11-19, 23:37 authored by JM Kelly, MW Coppieters, J Kluver, M Deen, Ebonie RioEbonie Rio, DS Harvie
Introduction: Embodying fit avatars in virtual reality (VR) is proposed as a possible treatment for cortical body representations and pain-related self-perceptions. Objective: To explore consumer perceptions of a novel VR intervention (VR-BiT) for chronic low back pain. Methods: Adults (n = 17, mean age(SD) = 52(14)) with chronic low back pain who had undergone a single session of VR-BiT as part of a randomized controlled trial underwent a semi-structured interview using open-ended questions. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed thematically. Results: Data reduction identified four themes: clinically beneficial and beyond; helping and hindering use; desire for more; and individualized future. Participants experienced wide ranging effects, including improved physical self-efficacy, pain, ability to perform physical activity and psychological symptoms. The intervention was well tolerated, except for two reports of nausea, and a few participants indicating pain associated with unaccustomed movement. Most participants were motivated to use VR-BiT again, despite some having technical issues. Participants suggested that personalizing VR-BiT and regular use would be beneficial. Conclusions: There was strong consumer support for further use of VR-BiT. Future studies of VR-BiT effectiveness are warranted and should consider incorporating individual user preferences, including people with diverse pain presentations, and involving a multi-session design.


This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council [GNT1142929]; The Hopkins Centre [Seeding Grant].


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Physiotherapy Theory and Practice








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© 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License ( nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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