CognifiSense, Inc. is a Silicon Valley-based startup that creates Virtual Reality (VR) apps
to treat pain. The company currently has 2 product groups:
Based on almost two decades of academic research, this product “distracts” (refocuses) pain sufferers from their pain during a pain episode. CognifiSense is going beyond simple VR Distraction Therapy by creating a closed-loop system and applying proprietary algorithms and Big Data analytics to optimize analgesic effects.
Cutting-edge technology to rewire the brain to perceive pain differently. The goal of this break-through technology is to create a lasting reduction in perceived pain in chronic pain sufferers.
Co-founder Harald Stock in Bananaland
fmri scans showing areas of the brain activated by pain with/without VR Source: University of Washington, Hoffman et al, 2004
The experience of pain is a complex phenomenon with both physical and psychological components. Pain experience is not just a function of the severity of a noxious stimulus (e.g. injury). The brain and nervous system have mechanisms that can literally increase or decrease the amount of pain stimulus sent from the body to the brain. Cognitive load and emotion are psychological factors, which impact the amount of pain a person perceives. Put simply, the brain is able to reprioritize the experience of pain based on cognitive load and emotion. This is why people can be oblivious to tremendous pain in a crisis situation. Because VR transports the person into another world that feels real, it can leverage the brain's natural mechanisms to refocus the mind and trigger analgesic effects. The level of refocus is a function of the level of immersion: sense of presence, identifying with the virtual world, level of activity in the virtual world, emotion generated in the world, etc.
The use of VR for pain management has been studied for 20 years. Numerous scientific studies, thereof 50 with sample size greater than 40, have been completed. Levels of pain reduction vary by application. A 2012 Systematic Evidence Review of 42 studies reported "Strong (Level 1a) evidence suggesting that immersive VR is a promising tool for decreasing pain in adults [with] acute pain.” (Source: Shahrbanian, Simmonds et al., 2012). Several fMRI studies have shown that VR reduces pain-related brain activity, giving some indication that the analgesic effect is more than placebo.
Numerous applications have been studied, including:
• Post-op pain
• Painful procedures
• Dental procedures
• Chronic pain: while most prior studies were on acute pain, several more recent studies show tremendous promise for use with chronic pain, especially episodic pain or breakthrough pain (spikes in pain that may have short duration but require stronger medication than normal)
Here is further reading on Virtual Reality for Pain
All apps are currently in a testing phase and are not available for commercial use. If you are interested in collaborating/participating in testing, please
CognifiSense's first VR Distraction Therapy app is a game called Bananaland. Bananaland is alternatively a meditative walk or first-person shooter game in which a player throws bananas at objects to collect points.
Coming Soon: Our next generation closed-loop app; GOING BEYOND simple VR Distraction Therapy.
Rewired 1 is CognifiSense's first VR app aimed at creating lasting pain relief in chronic pain sufferers by changing how the brain (nervous system) processes pain. Using proprietary technology Rewired 1 seeks to reverse maladaptive (or dysfunctional) chronic pain (neuroplasticity).
Serial CEO and entrepreneur. Most recently CEO of Serious Energy, a leading green building materials startup in Silicon Valley, funded by NEA, Foundation Capital and other leading VCs. Tassilo led the company through a succsessful turnaround and exit. Previously Tassilo worked in interactive media, Cleantech, consulting and banking.
Former CEO of Pain Pharma Company. CEO of OvaScience, Director at immatics. Previously, President & CEO of ArjoHuntleigh; CEO of the Grünenthal Group, a leading pain pharma company. Executive positions with Roche and at DePuy, the Orthopaedics Division of Johnson & Johnson
Professor in Dept. of Physical Therapy at the Univ. of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and Research Professor at the AT Still Research Institute. PI on VR for pain studies and co-author of leading VR for pain Meta-study.
Research consultant and health advocate. Former Partner at SV2 - Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund and Manager of Technology Licensing and Alliances at Aventis Pharmaceuticals (now Sanofi). Former Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Canada. Led cutting edge research to identify new molecules and pathways to find cures for neurological diseases.
Student at UC Santa Cruz studying Computer Engineering. Research assistant in Nick Davidenko's High-level perception lab. Brent has been developing VR software for over two years and is dedicated to finding new ways for emerging technologies to benefit people.
Student at UC Santa Cruz studying Computer Science: Computer Game Design. Research assistant in Nick Davidenko's High-level perception lab. Alisia specializes in designing games for an experience rather than entertainment, and hope to transform the way people interact with games and media.
Seasoned Regulatory, Quality and Clinical Affairs Executive, Regulatory Affairs Executive at Abbott Molecular, Danaher Corp and Roche
Data Scientist with with focus on big data & machine learning. Senior Data Scientist at ServiceNow, Impetus and CSC. Ph.D. Applied Mathematics from Caltech.