iPhone app makes a game of monitoring pain for young cancer patients

[Video Link] Canada's Hospital for Sick Children (aka SickKids) and the Cundari creative agency are developing a iPhone app called "Pain Squad" to help monitor and report physical pain and emotional wellness in young cancer patients. Snip from a post on Springwise:

Using the narrative of a police force hunting down pain, users are inducted as a rookie officer working on the case. Patients fill out a daily survey – which asks questions relating to whether they felt pain that day, how intense it was and its location – and can progress through the ranks of the force when they keep their records updated. The concept was created by Toronto-based media agency Cundari, who got stars from Rookie Blue and Flashpoint – two primetime cop shows in Canada – to appear in videos that are unlocked when patients do well and progress the narrative. By gamifying the process, the app gives patients an incentive to keep a daily journal of their pain. The app is still in the testing phase but SickKids hopes to release it later this year.

When I was in the hospital for breast cancer surgery, nurses popped in constantly to ask how my pain levels were; when they knew I was sufficiently doped up but saw me cry, they figured I was going through emotional pain.

But my relatively brief hospital stay is nothing compared to the longer-term in-patient stays many cancer patients must endure. And with many forms of cancer, monitoring pain levels over time is critical because that information can reveal the progression or retreat of disease.

I can see how a handheld app might encourage better data gathering, and more accurate tracking, especially in younger people with cancer who have different levels of comfort in communicating their condition with (older, adult) hospital staff. I haven't played with the app, and the proof is in how the young people with cancer feel about it—but it sounds like a great idea.

(thanks, Maria Popova!)


  1. Interesting. As someone who lives in chronic pain, tracking and reporting it is a mundane, often times futile exercise. I rarely do it anymore. (Wah? Pain? I’m in it again?)

    Anyway – something that can help kids out with this is great. Pain sucks. Games are fun.

  2. Got a little teary-eyed just watching this.   I also live with chronic pain, but these are just little kids . . .

    It looks like a fun app. I especially like the pain scale as a simple slider, instead of the always infuriating “1 thru 10″ smiley-to-sad faces.

Comments are closed.