Facial recognition app assesses patient pain

August 7, 2015 by Tony Malkovic, Science Network WA
He says the aim is to focus on the app for dementia patients and then refine the second app for pre-verbal children. Credit: Johann Ebend

An app developed by Curtin University researchers is using facial recognition technology to detect pain in patients who cannot speak.

Two versions of the are being developed: one for elderly people with dementia who find it difficult to communicate with medical staff, and the second for young children who have not yet learnt to speak.

The app is called the Electronic Pain Assessment Tool, or ePAT.

"What we're tying to do is provide an objective measure for assessing for patients who cannot communicate verbally," Professor Jeff Hughes says, who is the former head of Curtin's School of Pharmacy and a member of the research team.

"What it does is combine the objective facial features of pain which can be used with pain cues and combines that with other non-facial features in order to determine the presence of pain and the severity of the pain."

The app utilises 3D licensed from a Swiss company and takes a 10-second video which maps features such as the eyes, nose and mouth, which are then analysed in .

Prof Hughes says there is a lot of research around the world involving the detection of pain in dementia patients.

"But up until now we're the first people who have been able to analyse the presence of facial cues for pain using a smart device and undertaking that analysis in real time," he says.

"Potentially it's a game changer. What we know is that anywhere between 50 and 80 per cent of dementia patients suffer pain; 50 per cent of them have ongoing and we know that's undertreated."

ePAT backed by local investors

The ePAT app was a finalist earlier this year in the OzAPP awards for start-ups in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We have a start-up company called ePAT Pty Ltd and local WA investors here in WA supporting it," Prof Hughes says.

He says the ePAT team is undertaking validation trials with dementia patients to support its registration with regulatory bodies such as Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration, the US Food and Drug Administration and EU bodies, a process likely to take up to 18 months.

He says the aim is to focus on the app for and then refine the second app for pre-verbal children.

"We've already developed the specifications for that app but we will delay its development until we are further along with the ePAT for dementia," he says.

Explore further: New mobile app helps migraine sufferers track and analyze pain

Related Stories

New mobile app helps migraine sufferers track and analyze pain

November 5, 2012
A new iPhone app developed at the University of Michigan lets migraine or facial pain patients easily track and record their pain, which in turn helps the treating clinician develop a pain management plan.

Researchers to look for patterns in patient data from ManagingLife's pain diary app

May 21, 2015
A digital journal of pain occurrences maintained by the users of an innovative Manage My Pain app will be the key source for their upcoming study, York University psychology researchers say. The mobile app's developer ManagingLife ...

New iPad app helps children and young people with JIA communicate their pain experiences

June 11, 2015
The results of a study presented today at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2015) demonstrated the value of a new interactive iPad app that helps young people with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis ...

Altered pain processing in patients with cognitive impairment

May 29, 2015
People with dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment (CI) have altered responses to pain, with many conditions associated with increased pain sensitivity, concludes a research review in Pain, the official publication ...

Staring pain in the face—software 'reads kids' expressions to measure pain levels

June 1, 2015
Accurately assessing pain in children in a clinical setting can be difficult. A study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has demonstrated the validity of a new method for measuring ...

New mobile app will find dementia friendly places

March 17, 2015
A 'TripAdvisor'-style app is being launched which allows carers to locate and rate dementia-friendly places so they are better able to get out and about with their loved-ones. Triggered by Dr Katie Brittain, a Lecturer in ...

Recommended for you

Low total testosterone in men widespread, linked to chronic disease

April 19, 2018
A male's total testosterone level may be linked to more than just sexual health and muscle mass preservation, a new study finds. Low amounts of the hormone could also be associated with chronic disease, even among men 40 ...

Low-cost anti-hookworm drug boosts female farmers' physical fitness

April 19, 2018
Impoverished female farm workers infected with intestinal parasites known as hookworms saw significant improvements in physical fitness when they were treated with a low-cost deworming drug. The benefits were seen even in ...

What happens to our muscles during spaceflight and when living on Mars?

April 17, 2018
The inactivity of astronauts during spaceflights presents a significant risk to their muscles, says a new study in The Journal of Physiology. Scientists have simulated the impact of 21 day spaceflights on the body, and the ...

Parental diet before conception affects child's health

April 17, 2018
A child's health can be compromised not only by a mother who smokes or drinks during pregnancy, but by the obesity and poor diet of both parents well before the act of procreation, researchers said Tuesday.

Exercise, not vitamins, urged to prevent falls in seniors

April 17, 2018
Falling is the leading cause of injury-related death among people over age 65, and seniors who want to avoid falls should exercise, not rely on supplements like vitamin D, US guidelines said Tuesday.

Kids hit hard by junk food advertising: new research

April 17, 2018
Junk food ads are shown more frequently on TV at times when many children are watching, new Heart Foundation-funded research shows.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.