Staring Pain in the Face--Software 'Reads' Kids' Expressions to Measure Pain Levels
Publication DateMay 31 2015
DescriptionResearchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have developed a new method of measuring the pain experienced by pediatric patients using facial pattern recognition software. Pain is traditionally gauged via self-reporting, with patients rating their pain on a scale of 1 to 10; however, it can be difficult for medical professionals to accurately gauge the pain that pediatric patients are experiencing because children, especially young ones, are often unable to accurately gauge their own pain. The method described by the UCSD researchers is based on the Facial Action Coding System, which measures facial expressions using 46 anatomically-based component movements and which has proven to be useful in identifying pain-related facial movements. The researchers used the software to analyze video of 50 youths who had undergone laparoscopic appendectomies. They then compared the pain ratings generated by the software with the patient's self-reported pain levels and those provided by parents and nurses. "The software demonstrated good-to-excellent accuracy in assessing pain conditions," says UCSD School of Medicine professor Jeannie Huang, generating ratings comparable to the self-reported ratings and those of parents and nurses.