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Pain and perception

A closer look at why we hurt - sensory training approaches and virtual reality. 

For quite a long time, and perhaps still, it was rare to see Lorimer give a talk about pain that didn’t include an illusion. I, and many others, caught on. The reason for this was simple: You can talk about the complexity of perception all you want, but there is nothing like experiencing it for yourself.

I think many of us have had a sense that experiencing the weird and wonderful ins-and-outs of perception through illusions can open doors. Doors to accepting new ways of thinking about pain. I assume this was the reason Lorimer came up with ‘the Brain Bus’. If you are new to this idea, the Brain Bus is part of the Pain Revolution Rural Outreach Tour and is a travelling experiential learning lab, where we get hands on with illusions. These illusions become triggers for conversations (with anyone who will listen) about the complexity of perception, and by extension, pain.

Importantly, we have not viewed or used illusions as ‘a trick’, but as a window into how perception REALLY works.

In my second year as the Brain Bus Captain (best title ever) it became clear that some of our perception- and pain-related key messages were highlighted beautifully by some illusions, and other key messages by other illusions.

Inspired by the science of pain and perception, and our experience using illusions in pain education, Lorimer and I have authored a new book. The book aims to disentangle Pain and Perception through illusions and in doing so, take A Closer Look at Why We Hurt.

Thanks to some very speedy work from Noigroup, and some stunning illusions and illustrations from Juan Pieschacon, we hope you can soon see what is shaping up to be a beautiful book and an accessible read. I admit I’m a bit excited about the interactive flaps

and folds.

Daniel Harvie

PhD, M. Musc. Sports Physio., B. Physio (hons)

Dr Daniel Harvie is a physio and pain researcher at UniSA. He holds an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship focussed on brain-based treatments for persistent pain using sensory training approaches and

virtual reality. 


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