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Accurate pain assessment plays an important role in proper pain management, especially among hospitalized people experience acute pain. Pain is subjective in nature which is not only a sensory feeling but could also combine affective factors. Therefore self-report pain scales are the main assessment tools as long as patients are able to self-report. However, it remains a challenge to assess the pain from the patients who cannot self-report. In clinical practice, physiological parameters like heart rate and pain behaviors including facial expressions are observed as empirical references to infer pain objectively. The main aim of this study is to automate such process by leveraging machine learning methods and biosignal processing. To achieve this goal, biopotentials reflecting autonomic nervous system activities including electrocardiogram and galvanic skin response, and facial expressions measured with facial electromyograms were recorded from healthy volunteers undergoing experimental pain stimulus. IoT-enabled biopotential acquisition systems were developed to build the database aiming at providing compact and wearable solutions. Using the database, a biosignal processing flow was developed for continuous pain estimation. Signal features were extracted with customized time window lengths and updated every second. The extracted features were visualized and fed into multiple classifiers trained to estimate the presence of pain and pain intensity separately. Among the tested classifiers, the best pain presence estimating sensitivity achieved was 90% (specificity 84%) and the best pain intensity estimation accuracy achieved was 62.5%. The results show the validity of the proposed processing flow, especially in pain presence estimation at window level. This study adds one more piece of evidence on the feasibility of developing an automatic pain assessment tool from biopotentials, thus providing the confidence to move forward to real pain cases. In addition to the method development, the similarities and differences between automatic pain assessment studies were compared and summarized. It was found that in addition to the diversity of signals, the estimation goals also differed as a result of different study designs which made cross dataset comparison challenging. We also tried to discuss which parts in the classical processing flow would limit or boost the prediction performance and whether optimization can bring a breakthrough from the system’s perspective.
Patient self-reporting of pain is not always possible, in those cases automated objective pain assessment could lead to reliable pain assessment. In this context, physiological measurements have been studied and one of the promising signals is skin conductance (SC). In this study, 1Hz SC signal acquisition is performed while gradually increasing heat and electrical pain stimuli are induced. Three labeled study periods are defined based on pain stimuli presence, self-reported pain threshold and pain tolerance. Different classification and regression models are compared, together with selected SC features. The model performances are evaluated using c-index. Results show good predictability, especially for the slow tonic component decomposed from the SC signal.
Current acute pain intensity assessment tools are mainly based on self-reporting by patients, which is impractical for non-communicative, sedated or critically ill patients. In previous studies, various physiological signals have been observed qualitatively as a potential pain intensity index. On the basis of that, this study aims at developing a continuous pain monitoring method with the classification of multiple physiological parameters. Heart rate (HR), breath rate (BR), galvanic skin response (GSR) and facial surface electromyogram were collected from 30 healthy volunteers under thermal and electrical pain stimuli. The collected samples were labelled as no pain, mild pain or moderate/severe pain based on a self-reported visual analogue scale. The patterns of these three classes were first observed from the distribution of the 13 processed physiological parameters. Then, artificial neural network classifiers were trained, validated and tested with the physiological parameters. The average classification accuracy was 70.6%. The same method was applied to the medians of each class in each test and accuracy was improved to 83.3%. With facial electromyogram, the adaptivity of this method to a new subject was improved as the recognition accuracy of moderate/severe pain in leave-one-subject-out cross-validation was promoted from 74.9 ± 21.0 to 76.3 ± 18.1%. Among healthy volunteers, GSR, HR and BR were better correlated to pain intensity variations than facial muscle activities. The classification of multiple accessible physiological parameters can potentially provide a way to differentiate among no, mild and moderate/severe acute experimental pain.
Facial expressions are among behavioral signs of pain that can be employed as an entry point to develop an automatic human pain assessment tool. Such a tool can be an alternative to the self-report method and particularly serve patients who are unable to self-report like patients in the Intensive Care Unit and minors. In this paper, a wearable device with a bio-sensing facial mask is proposed to monitor pain intensity of a patient by utilizing facial surface electromyogram (sEMG). The wearable device works as a wireless sensor node and is integrated into an Internet of Things system for remote pain monitoring. In the sensor node, up to eight channels of sEMG can be each sampled at 1000 Hz, to cover its full frequency range, and transmitted to the cloud server via the gateway in real-time. In addition, both low energy consumption and wearing comfort are considered throughout the wearable device design for long-term monitoring. To remotely illustrate real-time pain data to caregivers, a mobile web application is developed for real-time streaming of high-volume sEMG data, digital signal processing, interpreting, and visualization. The cloud platform in the system act as a bridge between the sensor node and web browser, managing wireless communication between the server and the web application. In summary, this study proposes a scalable IoT system for real-time biopotential monitoring and a wearable solution for automatic pain assessment via facial expressions.
Background: The novel technology of the Internet of Things (IoT) connects objects to the Internet and its most advanced applications refine obtained data for the user. We propose that Internet of Things technology can be used to promote basic nursing care in the hospital environment by improving the quality of care and patient safety. Objectives: To introduce the concept of Internet of Things to nursing audience by exploring the state of the art of Internet of Things based technology for basic nursing care in the hospital environment. Data sources and review methods: Scoping review methodology following Arksey & O'Malley's stages from one to five were used to explore the extent, range, and nature of current literature. We searched eight databases using predefined search terms. A total of 5030 retrievals were found which were screened for duplications and relevancy to the study topic. 265 papers were chosen for closer screening of the abstracts and 93 for full text evaluation. 62 papers were selected for the review. The constructs of the papers, the Internet of Things based innovations and the themes of basic nursing care in hospital environment were identified. Results: Most of the papers included in the review were peer-reviewed proceedings of technological conferences or articles published in technological journals. The Internet of Things based innovations were presented in methodology papers or tested in case studies and usability assessments. Innovations were identified in several topics in four basic nursing care activities: comprehensive assessment, periodical clinical reassessment, activities of daily living and care management. Conclusions: Internet of Things technology is providing innovations for the use of basic nursing care although the innovations are emerging and still in early stages. Internet of things is yet vaguely adopted in nursing. The possibilities of the Internet of Things are not yet exploited as well as they could. Nursing science might benefit from deeper involvement in engineering research in the area of health.