PainCheck detects pain through facial recognition


Australian company PainCheck has received recognition from the U.S. Patent Office for its invention, an app for pain assessment.

Evidence indicates that around 60%–80% of people with dementia in care homes regularly experience pain, most commonly related to musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal and cardiac conditions; genitourinary infections; and pressure ulcers. Orofacial pain is also of frequent occurrence. In addition to the discomfort and distress caused by pain, it is frequently the underlying cause of behavioural symptoms, which can lead to inappropriate treatment with antipsychotic medications.

In dementia, where self-report is not possible, observation and detection of pain-related behaviour is a valuable approach to identification of pain in dementia. Facial expressions are particularly useful in detecting discomfort in AD. Interestingly, sensory and affective components of pain can be differentially expressed in the face, with sensory aspects shown by movements around the eyes, and affective aspects depicted by movements of the eyebrows and the upper lip.

PainChek® is a secure, validated, TGA cleared medical device in the form of a mobile app. It uses existing smartphone and tablet hardware to enable a simple, objective and accurate assessment of pain.

The most innovative aspect is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is used to analyse facial expressions indicative of pain in real time. I addition to facial recognition, caregivers record their observation of pain behaviours and vocalisation, to provide a comprehensive and objective assessment of pain.

The app has been tested in pilot studies with dementia patients with good results.

PainChek is also on track to obtain United States FDA De Novo regulatory clearance in 2020. The De Novo process provides a regulatory pathway for PainChek to market the adult version app in the US. The company is also currently completing national filings for the same patent in Australia, China, Europe, Japan and the United Kingdom.

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