International Development in Pain Management for Burns Kids

Queensland-based Technology Launched

18th October 2005

For immediate release

A significant international development in the management of pain and anxiety in young burns patients was launched in Brisbane today.

A team of Australasian researchers has developed a revolutionary technology in Queensland that reduces anxiety and distress during the painful treatment of burns.

Combining digital media and diversionary therapy, the technology can also be applicable in areas such as emergency medicine, oncology, radiology and dentistry.

"It's also a potential pain management tool for a diverse range of medical procedures," said Sam Bucolo, Research & Development Manager for leading research and development organisation, ACID (Australasian CRC for Interaction Design).

"The Diversionary Therapy technology diverts the child's attention during painful procedures by involving them in a colourful, 3D augmented reality experience with a cartoon-like character called 'Hospital Harry'", he said.

The Diversionary Therapy technology has been developed by ACID, in partnership with the Brisbane Royal Children's Hospital, including Queensland Government seed funding to get the product commercial ready.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Trade and Innovation , Anna Bligh and the ACID research team launched the new technology along with the Brisbane Royal Children's Hospital today.

"The treatment of burns, particularly in young children, can be an excruciating and drawn-out process for both the child and parents," said Dr Roy Kimble, from the Brisbane Royal Children's Hospital Burns Unit.

"Existing pain management methods are heavily reliant on drug intervention.

"This diversion helps patients relax, which the first round of clinical trials has shown, reduces pulse and respiratory rates and overall pain levels," he said.

The second round of clinical trials – set to commence late 2005 – will observe pain levels whilst reducing reliance on drug intervention and using the Diversionary Therapy.

Two prototypes of the technology have been developed and extensively tested over the past three months.

"A 'digital storyboard' has been developed for patients aged 2-5 years, which can be operated by the child or their carer," said Mr Bucolo.

"Whilst older patients use 3D goggles, which they wear like glasses," he said.

Both prototypes provide an augmented reality experience with the colourful 3D character, Hospital Harry, and come complete with automated narration.

"The young patients are immersed in the world of Hospital Harry and can take him through a series of scenarios by either moving the 'digital storyboard' or their head, if wearing the 3D goggles," said Mr Bucolo.

"Some of the scenarios include finding flowers that Harry has hidden, moving through a world of balloons and even watch Harry throw a tantrum.

ACID collaborated with a range of partners to develop the prototype and 'Hospital Harry' animation, including Infinity Design Development (industrial design of prototypes), Blue Rocket Productions (creators of Hospital Harry character) and HITLab NZ (human-computer interface technology).

For more information:
Jason Pickersgill, ACID. T: 07 3337 7929 or 0432 163 886. E:

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