This Mobile App Can Detect Intensity of Chronic Pain Using Facial Expressions

A team of Australian developers has created a smartphone-based application called ‘PainChek’ that uses facial recognition technology to detect chronic pain in patients.

The tool is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, and a recent study suggests that it can help healthcare workers to properly identify and manage the intensity of pain of patients afflicted with dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease among other ailments.


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Pain in dementia patients who are unable to explain how they feel can be complicated and subjective. Doctors often rely on observing behaviors like restlessness, body language, speech and sleep patterns, appetite, facial expressions, and other factors to gauge the pain of such patients.

The PainChek application substitutes most of their guesswork through an algorithm that maps facial expressions in real time using facial recognition to detect muscle movements that indicate pain and automatically, and then updates the medical records of the patient in quick succession.

In the next step, the patient’s doctor is guided through a questionnaire for an assessment of the intensity of the pain. All the questions have been designed with a number of indicators like vocalization, movement, physical changes, behavioral changes, and changes in activity.


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Philip Daffas, the man behind the application, has stated that his team is “looking to extend these integration agreements into the home care sector where the majority of people with dementia currently live, as well as progressing our international expansion plans”.

PainChek is also coronavirus-sensitive, which means it complies with the social distancing requirements and infection control advised by the World Health Organization (WHO).