Older people in remote areas of the country who live with chronic pain may be able to use a new device over their television or telephone for advice on how to cope.
Researchers say the gadget would be connected to the equipment and could feature some degree of social interaction, which may help patients’ mood.
Some older patients find it difficult to visit the hospital or a GP’s surgery, so receiving care advice via a household appliance could be a solution.
The project is being worked on by a team of scientists from the University of Aberdeen and the University of the Highlands and Islands.
Pat Schofield, of the Centre for Advanced Studies in Nursing at Aberdeen University, said: “The device we are envisaging would help older people in rural areas living with chronic pain by giving them support and advice on, for example, the exercise and activities they can do or the correct way they should be sitting so as not to aggravate their condition.
“One of the greatest fears for an older person living in a remote location is that the introduction of technology in their health treatment will result in losing the social interaction they gain from one-to-one visits from health or social care professionals.
Dr Schofield added: “Our aim is to create a device which retains rather than removes personal and social interaction with others. And we’ll look at how, for example, web cam or teleconferencing technology could be integrated into what we create to achieve this.”
Around three quarters of older people in the UK live with persistent pain which lasts longer than three months and is difficult to treat.