Play the Pain project is a collaborative initiative to bring Neuroscientists, Clinicians, Game and Media scholars, and Data/Computer Scientists together to design and implement a theory-based gamified mHealth platform for individualized suffering of chronic pain.

Chronic pain (CP) is a debilitating public health concern that affects anywhere between 16%-41% of Canadians, with factors such as age, gender, cultural context and socioeconomic status explaining the high variability. Chronic pain challenges researchers, clinicians, pharmacists, and policy-makers at several levels because the elusive nature of pain perception makes it difficult to quantify and qualify pain thus increases the need for personalized and trial-and-error based pain management systems. This increased the cost of care for untreated patients, and also increased the risks of secondary effects due to stress, disability or medication toxicity.
Play the Pain is conceptualized with recognition of the tremendous benefit of mHealth approaches to involved patients in self-monitoring, pain tracking and data recording as a way of collaborative decision making with clinicians. In pain research, electronic pain diaries were introduced about two decades ago, with the explicit purpose to create a taxonomy of pain with attention to the psychological and temporal profile of pain experience.

Play the Pain is a ludic mHealth platform to interface between chronic pain patients to allow them to participate in researching their pain by momentary evaluation of their emotions and sensation; while giving them various options to try non-pharmacological analgesic interventions (e.g. medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, playing distraction games, meditation, and expressive writing).

This project relies on collaborative decision making between

Patient (who inform the expectation from the app),

Clinicians (who ensure the scientific validity of the intervention or data),

Designers (who use the information from the first two groups and create the user interface and game scenarios)

and Computer and Data Scientists who develop a data management system that connects users and clinicians with personal and population data in a secure manner.

The game prototype is completed and we are awaiting additional funding to define the design and begin testing. The project is currently supported by the PERFORM Centre, TAG, and MCIN.

We welcome additional academic and industry partnerships. Please address your inquiries to Dr. Mahani (

Read more about Play the Pain goals


Tristan Glatard
Mathieu Roy
Chris Salter
Bart Simon
Rosanna Maule
Marie-Paule Grimaldi
Sandra Woods
This two-day event in Concordia University's 4th Space was open-to-all, and included discussions and workshops organized around the following topis:

* Playful ways to cope with pain;
* Creative ways to communicate pain;
* Research methods to evaluate alternative treatments for pain.
While engaging in various art-therapeutic activities, we explored the ethical, practical and cultural tensions between lab-based research that focuses on medical conditions, versus data-driven research that focuses on living conditions.

Click to see what happened in our Oct 1st and Oct 2nd Workshop

sponsor mcin
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