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Developing a Multidimensional Pain Detection Device for Infants

Life Science Discovery Fund – $235,002
8/16/15 – 8/15/16

The project aims to develop a device to detect, measure, and report pain level continuously and objectively at the bedside. The device will integrate three different indicators of pain and report a “pain score” via a glass orb that changes color according to severity. Methods to measure two of the three pain signals have been developed. The LSDF grant supports collaborations among researchers at WSU’s Spokane and Pullman campuses to (1) develop methods to capture the third pain signal; (2) refine algorithms to calculate composite pain scores; and (3) construct a prototype.

Abstract

Yearly, a half million babies are born prematurely in the United States. These infants often require numerous and painful life-saving and life-sustaining procedures in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). This pain experience is neurologically toxic to the developing brain and is associated with long-term disabling conditions including altered behavior, cognition, and learning. Thus, precise pain detection and measurement can be a key to effective and safe treatment. Currently, pain in the NICU is measured by clinician’s observations and the use of “pen and paper” pain scales. These are subjective, unreliable, and valid for only the specific moment in time that the infant is observed. We are developing a device to detect, compute and report pain level continuously and objectively at the bedside, using a multidimensional approach consisting of both behavioral and physiological signals. Our device will monitor pain unobtrusively, 24/7, in real-time, and report a “pain score” via a glass orb that changes color according to pain severity. The ability to assess, or measure pain actively and “on-demand” in this vulnerable population holds the promise to improve pain management and help to prevent negative effects on the developing brain, and the profound and long-term societal and personal consequences associated with them.

Primary Investigator

Martin Schiavenato
Martin Schiavenato, PhD

Co-Investigator

Subhanshu Gupta, PhD