Scientists are working on treatments that can be delivered through the pain management app and will be tested in clinical trials.
Neuroscientists at the Carney Institute for Brain Science at Brown University in Providence, RI, have developed SOMA, a new smartphone app that helps people with acute and chronic pain monitor and track patterns in their mood, pain and daily activities — including which activities affect their pain in positive or negative ways. Using data from the free pain management app, Carney scientists are working on treatments that can be delivered through the app and will be tested in clinical trials.
Chronic pain persists well beyond an injury or illness. It may last a lifetime and be resistant to over-the-counter medications. It’s also among the most common conditions in the United States with one in five adults reporting pain on most days or every day in 2022.
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New research suggests that chronic pain may be the result of changes in brain circuits that are involved in learning and memory. Yet, most treatments for pain still focus almost exclusively on the periphery and not the brain.
To bridge this divide, neuroscientists at the Carney Institute for Brain Science at Brown University have developed SOMA. Freely available on the App Store and Google Play Store, the app focuses on the role learning and expectations pain plays in transitioning from acute to chronic pain. With more detailed data gathered from users of SOMA, healthcare providers will be able to offer precision medical treatments that target the root cause of chronic pain.
“We are hoping that SOMA will help many monitor their pain and recovery and build the basis for groundbreaking science that will improve pain treatment,” says Professor Frederike Petzchner, head of the Psychiatry, Embodiment, and Computation Lab (PEAC) at the Carney Institute for Brain Science and primary investigator behind the SOMA project.
SOMA is made possible by the new Brainstorm Program at the Carney Institute for Brain Science at Brown University, which focuses on the translation of brain science into real-world applications that have a lasting positive impact on the field of mental health – and in the case of SOMA, for those that suffer from pain.