Pain ROADMAP: A Mobile app to help people with chronic pain

A Mobile app to help people with chronic pain

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.

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Activity pacing

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

"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.

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Implementing Pain ROADMAP

The pilot implementation of Pain ROADMAP, at the Tess Cramond Pain and Research Centre, demonstrated that Pain ROADMAP significantly reduces pain flare ups and stabilises pain levels. This helped individuals with pain who participated in the study to become more active and reduce their opioid medication resulting in improvements in mood. Pain ROADMAP has won a number of awards for outstanding digital technology development and research including two merit awards at the 2019 national iAWARDS.

Pain ROADMAP has since been adapted to make it more suitable for individuals of all ages with pain and can currently be accessed at the following Pain Centres as part of a multisite implementation:

1. The Metro South Health Persistent Pain Management Service

2. Support Kids in Pain

3. St Vincent’s Hospital, Brisbane

If you are attending one of these services and are interested in accessing Pain ROADMAP as part of your treatment talk to one of your clinicians or email us at recover@uq.edu.au

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