PainSA is a chapter of the International Association for the Study of Pain. Our mission is to improve all aspects of pain management in Southern Africa.

Using AI to Detect Pain through Facial Expressions: A Review


When a patient cannot say how much pain they are in, such as when they are sedated, have dementia, or are nonverbal, clinicians turn to facial expressions to guide treatment. Tension, frowning, or grimacing may indicate pain, and bedside assessment scales consider those elements. Clinicians typically must be with patients to complete those measures, however, which is not always possible in a busy hospital or nursing home, and this can lead to delays in administering care. Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that can interpret images of patients’ faces to detect when they are in pain, paving the way for around-the-clock monitoring.

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