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 Staring Pain in the Face – Software Reads Kids’ Expressions to Measure Pain Levels

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Date posted: 02/06/2015

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 pediatric pain levels using novel facial pattern recognition software.

The study will publish online June 1 in the journal Pediatrics.

“The current methods by which we analyze pain in kids are suboptimal,” said senior author Jeannie Huang, MD, MPH, a professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and a gastroenterologist at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. “In this study, we developed and tested a new instrument, which allowed us to automatically assess pain in children in a clinical setting. We believe this technology, which enables continuous pain monitoring, can lead to better and more timely pain management.”

The researchers used the software to analyze pain-related facial expressions from video taken of 50 youths, ages five to 18 years old, who had undergone laparoscopic appendectomies at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. Based on the analysis, along with clinical data input by the study team, the software provided pain level scores for each participant.

Huang said controlling pain is important, not only for the child’s comfort, but also for recovery. Studies have shown that under-treatment of pain is associated with adverse surgical outcomes. “Accurate assessment of pain is a fundamental tenet of delivery of care,” she said.

Several issues, particularly age-related communication difficulties, make existing pediatric pain assessment methods problematic, said Huang. “The current gold standard for measuring pain is self-reporting,” she said, noting patients are generally asked to rate their pain on a scale of zero to 10. “But in pediatrics there is a limited population of kids who can answer that question in a meaningful way. Younger children can have difficulty - a two-year-old hasn’t developed the cognitive and conceptual abilities to think in those terms.”

See the full Story via external site: health.ucsd.edu

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02/06/2015: Staring Pain in the Face – Software Reads Kids’ Expressions to Measure Pain Levels