VRWalk - Virtual Walking Game for Neuropathic Pain in Spinal Cord Injury

The VRWalk trial investigates a novel virtual reality walking treatment to decrease neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury.

Although loss of mobility is often considered the most serious consequence of spinal cord injury, individuals with spinal cord injury consistently rate pain as one of their most difficult problems to deal with. Neuropathic pain affects approximately 60% of persons with spinal cord injury, and is only minimally responsive to existing pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatment.

Over the last 12 years, findings pioneered by Professor Gustin have been central in advancing the understanding of the neuroscience of spinal cord injury neuropathic pain, and the key role of thalamocortical changes that underlie its development.

Prof Gustin, in collaboration with Associate Professor Zina Trost and Corey Shum, has developed a novel immersive interactive virtual reality walking intervention (VRWalk) that targets these thalamocortical changes by reinstating sensorimotor input using visual illusion.

By tricking the brain into believing that actions (walking, running, climbing, and touching) performed in the virtual world are real, virtual reality leads to the reactivation of the brain’s sensorimotor areas. There is some evidence that providing the brain with this type of feedback will help reduce neuropathic pain.

VRWalk involves playing a virtual reality walking game for 10 mins, twice a day for 10 – 14 days; and completing a series of questionnaires at 6 timepoints over a 12-month period.

*The trial is home based so anyone across Australia can participate.

Participants can receive a total of $200.00 for completing all trial activities.

Learn more about the trial here