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PhD Q&A: DiSCo for your health

Trondheim is teeming with researchers and scientists… but what are they up to behind closed doors?

Gøril Storvig (Photo: Mia Hjertø)

Gøril Storvig is a PhD candidate researching innovative digital treatment solutions for people with prolonged post-concussion symptoms at NTNU. The List sat down with Gøril to ask her about concussions, DiSCo, and life in Trondheim.

What do you like about being a PhD candidate in Trondheim?

I like that there’s a lot of exciting research going on and many interesting people to interact with. There are many passionate people in my field, making it easy to network and stumble upon new projects or exciting events.

I am a PhD candidate at the Department of Psychology, and my lab (The Clinical Neuroscience Lab) is located at the new research centre for headaches, NorHEAD at St. Olav Hospital. My other research group, the Traumatic Brain Injury Group, is also located here.

It’s great to have everything — and everyone — close by. It’s always nice to run into others who are interested in the same things as you by the coffee machine. It’s an inspiring environment to be part of!

What’s the biggest difference between Trondheim and other cities you've lived in?

Trondheim has a lot of study and working opportunities for young working professionals, especially within medicine and technology. It's really a student city — that does something to the atmosphere. There is always something happening, but it’s still a cosy small-town feeling.

Your research focuses on symptoms people experience after concussions — what are they?

You can have a lot of different symptoms. For instance, you may experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty concentrating, or that you get frustrated or irritated more easily. Most symptoms go away within a few weeks. But for some, they last for a longer time. Symptoms lasting for three months or longer are often referred to as "prolonged post-concussion symptoms" and that’s the focus of my study.

(Photo: Mia Hjertø)

So, are you trying to find a cure?

Not a cure, unfortunately, but we are trying to create tools that can make life easier for this group of people.

Right now I am working on the DiSCo-study, which is short for Digital Solutions for Concussion. In this study, we're developing two tools. The first one is a symptom diary — similar to a headache diary which some might know — but in addition to mapping your headache, you can log other symptoms you may experience after a concussion as well.

For people with prolonged post-concussion symptoms, the symptoms typically fluctuate a lot. Actually, the only predictable thing is that it seems unpredictable. So creating an app where you easily can map and view your symptoms over time could help many people.

The second tool is a biofeedback system. Biofeedback is a treatment method that can be used to prevent headaches. There is good evidence this treatment can reduce headaches for people with migraines, but it has been less studied for those who suffered concussions. There are similarities between the two which makes it interesting to try to develop a user-friendly solution that can be tested on a larger scale in future studies.

(Photo: Mia Hjertø)

What are you curious to research next?

Wow, there are so many exciting things I would like to dive into! I find health innovation very interesting, and the idea of creating new and better solutions that can actually make a change for people is really appealing to me.

Almost any topic is fun to research if you’re just given the opportunity to dive into the details and ask interesting questions. That's the best part of being a PhD candidate!

This article first appeared in the Tech List section of The List's Spring 2023 magazine — which is made possible by Trondheim Tech Port.


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