Mobile app to help people with chronic pain

9 Sep 2019

Pain Australia describes chronic pain (sometimes referred to as persistent pain) as pain that lasts longer than three months, long beyond the time expected for healing after an injury or surgery or other condition[1]. Chronic pain can be the symptom of another condition (e.g. migraine, arthritis, fibromyalgia and other musculoskeletal conditions) but it can also be a standalone condition. Chronic pain can impact all areas of a person’s social functioning and can also affect their emotional and mental wellbeing.

Managing chronic pain conditions can be difficult as pain is a complex condition and everyone responds differently to it.

Activity pacing

One way that pain can be managed is by a technique called activity pacing. Dr Nicole Andrews explains:

Dr Nicole Andrews

"For individuals with chronic pain physical activity is like a double edge sword. While we encourage individuals with chronic pain to exercise and be active, doing too much can significantly exacerbate pain levels and negatively impact one’s life. Activity pacing involves breaking up and scheduling daily tasks in a way that allows individuals with pain to be active without aggravating their pain.  With activity pacing, tasks that were originally unachievable become manageable. Activity pacing allows individuals to engage more with activities that are important to them such as work or spending quality time with family." 

People with chronic pain can struggle to identify which activities may cause the most problems for them, and so Dr Andrews and colleagues have created a mobile phone platform called Pain ROADMAP. Pain ROADMAP is designed to monitor individuals with chronic pain and accurately detect the activities that caused a pain exacerbation. This information can then be used to help individuals develop a better routine, pace activity effectively and achieve their goals.

Pain ROADMAP has won a number of awards for outstanding digital technology development and research. The team of collaborators from RECOVER, UQ, Metro North Hospital and Health Service and CSIRO, recently took out the two merit awards at the national iAWARDS for data insight innovation of the year and excellence in research and development.

Read more about the app.

What is Pain ROADMAP?