"Significant walks": personal visualisations of the chronic low back pain experience-an arts, health and science project

Shirley Chubb, Neil Bryant, Kambiz Saber-Sheikh, A. Moore

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Background: More than a third of the adult UK population are affected by low back pain, approximately 17 million people. The socio-economic cost is huge; the cost of healthcare alone is estimated to be £1.5 billion per year. However the personal cost is immeasurable. Back pain remains a hidden and misunderstood problem, with many sufferers finding it difficult to effectively communicate the pain and its devastating impact on their daily lives. "Significant Walks" was a collaborative project involving experts in the visual arts, health and science. The project explored the reality of walking for individuals with chronic low back pain and their personal visualisation of this experience. The aim was to deepen public and professional perceptions of the meaning for low back pain for those living with the condition. Purpose: The purpose of this project was to enable participants to express the nature of their experience of chronic low back pain by documenting a walk that is significant to them. Methods: Twelve participants suffering from chronic low back pain were invited to choose a personal walk of particular significance to them. The significance could be negative or it could be positive. Video recordings were collected during the walk using a head-mounted camera, giving "point of view" footage. Movement and acceleration data were simultaneously collected using external inertial sensors attached to the lumbar spine at L1 and S1 vertebrae. The inertial sensors captured the movement pattern, for example the rhythm of the walk, as well as the acceleration which occurred during the walking process. Pain levels were also monitored throughout the walk and qualitative data from each participant was gathered using a questionnaire format. The participants then used their own movement data to manipulate special effects applied to the original video and synchronised data creating hybrid footage that they felt represented their personal experience. Results: A visual representation of 12 significant walks has been co-produced by the researchers together with the participants. Key elements have been selected and combined in an immersive audio-visual exhibit. The exhibit demonstrates the interaction of the visual walk with spinal range of motion and acceleration data, pain levels and qualitative statements which express the individual's experience during their significant walk. Conclusion(s): The data has been consolidated into personal and valid expressions of the chronic low back pain experience. Implications: Implications are that collaborative working across Art, Health and Science disciplines and the use of visual arts and science can lead to powerful and significant visualisation of health experiences which has implications for the expression of a range of health topic areas which are usually invisible to the general public. Keywords: Art; Health; Chronic low back pain Funding acknowledgements: The project was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the University of Brighton and the University of Chichester. Ethics approval: Approved by University of Chichester Ethics Committee and FREG Committee, Faculty of Health and Social Science, University of Brighton.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2015
EventWCPT Congress 2015 - Singapore, 2015
Duration: 2 May 2015 → …


ConferenceWCPT Congress 2015
Period2/05/15 → …


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