Reducept wants to rid the world of chronic pain

The Dutch start-up Reducept has been around for a few years. The founders Margryt Fennema and Louis Zantema jointly developed the Reducept Method. Scientific knowledge on pain education, psychology and digital therapy are combined. It is a complex and non-invasive treatment program aimed at reducing chronic pain without the use of medications. This includes the use of Virtual Reality. Louis Zantema tells more about this unique method for this start-up episode of the day.

Louis Zantema/ Photo: Evgeniya Tukbaeva

What exactly does Reducept do?

“Reduccept’s mission is to rid the world of chronic pain. We do this by developing a digital approach that enables patients to better understand their pain and learn how to influence it themselves. Our Reducept Virtual Reality (VR) therapy plays an important role in this method. Pain always arises in the brain, and with Reducept we train the brains of people with long-term pain complaints.”

How did this idea come about?

“There are a large number of people in the Netherlands with chronic pain complaints. It is estimated that more than 2.7 million. In my own work with this target group, I have found that education and psychological strategies can go a long way in helping these patients to reduce their pain. However, nationally, less than 2 percent of patients are offered this type of intervention. There are simply too few (pain) psychologists and finding their way to a psychologist is often difficult for patients.”

“This issue only became clear when I met Margryt Fennema at the Leeuwarden Medical Center and we started working together on an innovation project – Margryt’s experience. By applying the ‘design research’ principles that she had learned, it also became clear to me how eager these people want to do whatever they can to get rid of their pain and that we wanted to offer more on that.”

How did you proceed after that?

“In fact, we started to test hypotheses step by step and, together with the patients, we analyzed their needs in terms of pain treatment expansion. There was already a lot of literature available on virtual reality in acute pain, but in the trials we did with chronic pain patients, they also experienced virtual reality as a distraction. After playing several virtual reality games with patients, we discovered more and more which interventions they liked. In this way we lay the foundation for our own virtual reality therapy. In doing so, we didn’t just want to use distraction to reduce pain. We also wanted to provide education and teach patients strategies to experience greater control over their pain.”

Reducept
Photo: Evgeniya Tukbaeva

What are your plans for the future?

“Right now we are constantly expanding Reducept. For example, we are working on specific treatment protocols and how patients receive information at home. After validating these protocols, we will extend our method to other countries. Additionally, we are working with research partners on the scientific validation of Reducept. Ultimately, we expect Reducept to become the benchmark reimbursed care for chronic pain in the Netherlands and beyond. If this is successful, it would be great to develop comparable digital therapies for other target groups in the future.”

What more do you want to achieve?

“Our hope is that we can make people aware of the way the body and mind continually work together and influence each other. Even with ‘disorders’ where we often only have a medical view. What often happens today is that a complaint is placed in the ‘physical’ or ‘mental’ box. Do you have a burnout? So it’s mental and you go to a psychologist. Do you feel pain for a long time? Then it’s physical and you go to a doctor. While physical sensations go hand in hand with mental complaints and vice versa. It’s good that there’s less of a taboo about mental health than there was a few decades ago, but now is the time to see and treat mental and physical health more holistically.”

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