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Ohio invests in high-tech ideas to help solve opioid crisis

COLUMBUS (WCMH) -- Virtual reality, neural feedback and digital therapy are among five ideas to help solve the U.S. opioid crisis that have won the first phase of a global technology challenge in Ohio.

Hundreds of researchers, caregivers, service providers and individuals from Ohio, other states and nine countries participated in the competition.

Winners received $10,000 to take ideas into development.

One of the award-worthy ideas came from a Cincinnati company called Kinametechs. Developer Yong Pei suggests using an augmented reality-based interactive coaching system to improve physical rehabilitation after surgery. "It's going to tell the patient, 'ok you are about to experience some pain, now you better start moving,' you know if its a hand surgery - move your arm a little bit."

Pei says a patient who is expecting pain can handle it better. He argues that improved physical rehabilitation can help relieve stiffness, reduce the need for prescription pain medications and lessen the risk of addiction.

Jackie Lewis attended the awards announcement in Columbus Tuesday because of a personal connection to the problem. Her son has struggled with addiction for several years. She says she was hoping for more immediate answers to the problem. "I just had a lot of hope that there'd be new things come soon that could give people like my son and others that are struggling that immediate help they need," Lewis said.

Another of the winning ideas came from University of Dayton researcher Kelly Cashion who suggests that patients who can see their own brain activity in real time can learn to control the effects of addiction and speed up their recovery.

"You monitor brain activity and then you show the user or the patient what's happening in a specific part of the brain and ask them to either amplify that activity or regulate that activity," Cashion said.

The state is offering the $8 million multi-phase Opioid Technology Challenge with escalating prize amounts associated with progressive levels of solution development.

Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich called for the investment as the state has been among the hardest hit.


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