Software can detect pain by analyzing a person's face

A group of researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed software that can make an accurate guess at what level of pain someone is in just by analyzing their facial expressions. A computer using the algorithm can then act as a somewhat automated version of the pain measurement scale (seen above), which doctors and nurses ask a patient to use when answering the question "how badly does it hurt?" The software certainly won't replace a nurse asking the question, but it could help provide a more accurate answer if the patient is affected by other issues.

The software works by studying the details of the face during an expression, for example, a lowered brow, closed eyes, nose wrinkles and if the mouth is open. A lowered brow and closed eyes could mean just minor pain, while real agony might be detected by a wince with a scrunched up nose and raised cheeks.

Researchers tested the program on kids aged 5 to 18 years old, after they underwent a laparoscopic appendectomy. The computer's guesses weren't quite as accurate those from the kids' parents — who know their children well enough to understand their discomfort — but it was just as good as a nurse's assessment.

With the software being that accurate already, it could mean it's almost ready to be used by hospitals and other facilities on a wider scale, however it isn't quite clear how and when it should be used. One idea is to have it assist nurses in understanding if a patient is getting enough painkillers after surgery.

VIA Walyou

SOURCE Pediatrics