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Undiagnosed pain of dementia sufferers could soon be measured by
facial recognition technology, as part of an Electronic Pain Assessment
Tool (ePAT) being developed at Curtin University.
The ePAT, which is linked to the camera
on a smart phone or tablet, is designed
to quickly and accurately detect,
evaluate and document the severity of
pain in non-communicative patients
Lead developer Professor Jeff Hughes,
from Curtin's School of Pharmacy,
said the new tool would add an
automated and innovative facial
recognition component to more
traditional methods of assessing pain.
It is hoped the technology will
eventually translate to measuring pain
levels in other non-communicative
groups such as babies and infants.
'A significant issue among some
dementia sufferers is that they no
longer have the communication skills
to express the level of pain they are
suffering,' Professor Hughes said.
'The seriousness of their pain can
often go unrecognised. But automated
evaluation technology will allow for the
calculation of a pain severity score based
in part on a patient's facial expressions,
captured by the smart phone or tablet.
'Combined with the American Geriatric
Society's other widely accepted pain
indicators -- vocalisation, behavioural
change, psychological change,
physiological change and physical
change -- ePAT will provide an accurate
total pain score for the subject.
'The great hope is that dementia
sufferers will no longer have to suffer in
silence and that treatment stemming
from ePAT evaluation can help give
them a better quality of life.
'The obvious next step from there would
be to use the technology to gauge pain
scores in the very young.'
Professor Hughes said the growing
number of people worldwide living with
dementia underlined the potential value
of the ePAT.
'Globally there are an estimated
36 million people living with dementia
and this figure is predicted to rise to
115 million by 2050. In Australia, there
will be one new person diagnosed with
dementia every six minutes,' he said.
'With no current electronic tools
available to assess pain in people
with dementia, ePAT is an innovation
that can be of great benefit -- not only
in terms of pain treatment but also
improvement in cognitive function and
'ePAT's potential has already been
demonstrated by the willingness of
Alzheimer's Australia to invest $50,000 in
the project and also fund a PhD student
working on it.'
The ePAT innovation was a finalist in
the 2013 Curtin Commercial Innovation
A panel of experts has been set up to
aid in the development of the project
and consultations are being undertaken
with industry around the facial
The computing partner for the project
is Swiss-based nViso, a specialist in
human facial micro-expressions and
eye movements, capture which won
the 2013 IBM Beacon award for smarter
computing. The research team consists
of Professor Hughes and his Curtin
colleagues Dr Kreshnik Hoti, Mustafa
Atee and Professor Moyez Jiwa. It is
hoped testing on ePAT will start in the
first half of this year.
Facial features may diagnose
pain in dementia su erers
It's PSA election year
State and Territory PSA Branches will
soon be opening nominations for their
Branch Committee elections.
PSA Chief Executive Officer, Liesel
Wett, urged PSA members to consider
nominating for positions on their
'Our Branch Committees serve a
very important role and are a vehicle
for consultation with the board
and membership of the Society,'
Ms Wett said.
'They are also pivotal to ensuring that
local circumstances are taken into
account when developing strategies
and polices as well as delivering PSA
'Becoming a Branch Committee
member gives members a say in the
future of PSA, and a say in the future of
Ms Wett said the pharmacy profession
was evolving and also facing difficult
and challenging times.
'The role of Branch Committees takes
on an even greater importance during
times like these,' Ms Wett said.
'I encourage PSA members who want
changing professional environment,
and how we ensure we have a viable
and sustainable future, to nominate for
Members should look out for their
personal invitation to nominate
which will be released in March 2014,
and which includes appropriate
"BECOMING A BRANCH
COMMITTEE MEMBER GIVES
MEMBERS A SAY IN THE FUTURE
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