“MS subcutaneous injections consist of self-injecting medicine into the fatty tissue layer between the skin and the muscle. The injections can make a patient’s skin sore, red, itchy and even cause pain,” Meshgin explains.
Injection anxiety is very common in MS patients. An Ontario study found that more than 50 per cent of MS patients discontinued injection therapy within two years of starting.
“The aim of my research is to determine whether an application based on augmented reality (AR) technology can help reduce patients’ injection anxiety and perceived pain during the administration of their medication,” she says.
How it works
Meshgin’s AR application — known as MSease — has three main features and can be easily downloaded on mobile devices.
The first is an injection site overlay grid for image guidance. This allows a user to hover their mobile device over an injection area such as the abdomen, the arms, thighs or buttocks. They then see colour-coded injection site squares over the injection area that allow them to optimize where to inject.
The second component is an animated mascot aimed at providing guided-imagery pain therapy and relief from anxiety during the injection process. The idea is that the visual nature of the 3D mascot will divert the patient’s attention to relieve their stress and relax them.
Finally, the app contains a journal feature used to log symptoms and information, such as the injection’s date and time, selected injection site and necessary needle depth for that area. The journal also allows the user to rate their injection experience.
Meshgin tested MSease with one MS patient to assess if their anxiety and pain were reduced. She also had 14 non-MS patients evaluate the interface and usability of the app.
“In the post-study interview with our MS patient, they expressed that the experience with the application helped to significantly reduce their injection anxiety and their perceived pain was reduced in the moment of injection.”
All the users were satisfied with the accessibility, usability and overall usefulness of the app.
“These results are very exciting,” says Marta Kersten-Oertel, assistant professor of computer science and software engineering and Concordia University Research Chair in Applied Perception, who supervised Meshgin’s research.
“To have a student come up with this type of project using AR to practically help people going through a terrible disease is amazing. Our published research on MSease has clinicians excited about how this develops, and we think this could have applications for other diseases such as diabetes.”
Meshgin and Kersten-Oertel have teamed up with neurologists to expand the study, which will provide more data and feedback to improve the app’s overall functionality.
Read the cited study: “Multiple sclerosis image-guided subcutaneous injections using augmented reality guided imagery,” and find out more about Concordia’s Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science.