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Artificial-pain based diagnosis/prevention

Artifically induce pain to diagnose conditions or to help quickly identify them
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One hears of how a heart attack is characterized by shooting pain in the left shoulder, wheezing etc. However, until you've had a heart attack, you wouldn't know what it feels like. Precious lives are lost because people dismiss mild heart attacks as heartburn or other harmless things.

The idea then, is to make people (especially elderly or at risk people) learn to recognize symptoms of the onset of any disease/ailment quickly and fairly accurately.

The three step algorithm to accomplish this is as follows:

1. Use electrical shocks, mild drugs, nerve stimulation, pressure, etc to induce pain or suffering in volunteers who have ALREADY experience the threat, say the heart attack or stroke, or some sort of cancer.

2. The collective knowledge of these experienced volunteeers helps to pick out the right combinations of pain-inducing stimuli that resemble those of a real threat, say a heart attack. Basically, they fiddle with the dials and knobs until the pain is like they remembered it to be when it really happened.

3. These set of stimuli are applied to ordinary people say once every year during their health check-up, so that they get to know what to look for when the real thing happens.

The other advantage of this technique is that over time, a database of types of pain and their usual causes will develop. This pain database will help patients accurately describe their condition to doctors. Try explaining how exactly your knee hurts to a doc, and you get the feeling it is as hard to describe as it is for the doc to understand. However, with the pain database, you basically strap your other good knee into a pain inducing machine and fidlle with some different pain flavors until you find the right one (just like your bad knee feels). Then the doctor will know how to help you better, because A) he can strap himself in and experience it too B) there will be a huge information bank about what worked for other patients who had that pain flavor.

sash, Apr 26 2002

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       This idea is so bad, I can't decide where to start...
spartanica, Apr 26 2002

       I think it's a good idea! The pain simulator machine would presumably have an "intensity" dial that you'd keep turned down.   

       (Actually, I think it would be really hard, if not impossible, to build a machine that could repeatably simulate a full gamut of pain. But if you could, then this would be a good use for it.)
wiml, Apr 26 2002

       Sash, your name isn't Milgram, is it?
waugsqueke, Apr 26 2002


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