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Using musculo-postural biofeedback in virtual reality for pain management in musicians
Funder: European CommissionProject code: 101028715 Call for proposal: H2020-MSCA-IF-2020
Funded under: H2020 | MSCA-IF-EF-ST Overall Budget: 157,941 EURFunder Contribution: 157,941 EUR

Performing a musical instrument requires the coordination of repetitive motor patterns under sustained abnormal and non-ergonomic static postures. As a result, it exhibits one of the highest prevalence rates in work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The aim of project TONE is to develop and test with empirical research, an innovative tool that will assist musicians in developing preventive and pain-management strategies against task-specific musculoskeletal pain. This tool will comprise of a virtual mirror biofeedback system that will display musculo-postural parameters on a virtual character simulating in real time the movement of musicians during instrument performance. Corrective feedback will also be displayed in real time when abnormal musculo-postural activities are detected. In addition, a complementary VR game will be designed to be used with the biofeedback system to evaluate whether attentional distraction during instrument playing can be an effective intervention against pain. The effectiveness of the virtual mirror biofeedback tool and the VR game in preventing and/or reducing pain symptoms from abnormal musculo-skeletal activities executed during non-ergonomic postural activities (such as playing a musical instrument), will be assessed in experimental studies with healthy musicians, as well as with musicians suffering from acute or chronic pain. Thus, TONE will contribute new research findings that will help to better understand how pain in work-related musculoskeletal disorders manifests and how it can be treated. As work-related musculoskeletal disorders exert great cost on economy -- equal to 3.3% of EU GDP – it is rather imperative to develop and validate effective non-pharmacological treatment interventions. Project TONE aspires to provide a crucial step to that direction.

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