Medical Robotics: Medical Sensation Reduction - The Robotics Institute Carnegie Mellon University
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Medical Robotics: Medical Sensation Reduction

40% of adults and 63% of children have a significant needle-phobia with 5 to 8% actively avoiding treatment due to the fear of pain. The avoidance of vaccination alone results in an economic burden of about 9 billion annually to the US healthcare system. This burden can be drastically reduced by alleviating the pain of injections.
Currently there are devices that use vibration to produce an analgesic effect. However, they only have an efficacy of 70%, according to some studies. There are many other tactile sensations that have not been explored, especially working in tandem. Our solution is the Haptic Augmented Reality Tool, or HAR, a handheld device that hides the feeling of a needle in a pleasant sensation of touch. Our team combines experts in pain, dermatology, and robotics from CMU and Pitt to develop devices that incorporate several haptic sensations to decrease and even eliminate pain during injections. Experiments testing various artificially generated sensations that stimulate specific sensations on skin have been completed. Psychophysical experiments guided by our team will explore the effects of various types of stimulation at multiple locations around the site of injection in order to maximize the reduction of pain by counterstimulation. Using these results we will develop a handheld device that incorporates the most successful combinations to significantly decrease the pain associated with needle injections.

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