This invention relates to monitoring pain and distress in premature infants and in other non-communicative populations such as critically ill and those cognitively impaired. It would also potentially have broad applications for parental monitoring of new born infants. The proposed system would automatically measure multiple parameters and integrate them to arrive at an objective measure which would be displayed in real-time for the clinicians. It would replace current subjective and manual assessment by clinicians to arrive at a “pain score”. It also provides an objective quantification of procedural distress in the NICU and tools to track and display infant’s status. Roughly fourteen distressful procedures are performed on infants in the NICU per day; consequently, it is imperative that clinicians better understand the effects of these procedures.
This novel approach would allow an immediate (“real-time”) automatic feedback with interpretation and visual depiction of pertinent pain data. It combines both physiological and behavioral signs implicated in pain experience and expression into one real-time output. Another novelty is the non-intrusive but effective display of the pain and distress level. With this invention clinicians have the ability to make useful inferences about the general and current distress level of an infant and evaluate the infant’s readiness to receive any additional procedures. Such a system promises to positively affect the nature of care in the NICU by monitoring the quality, quantity, and timing of procedures so as to minimize negative outcomes.
URV Reference Number: 6-1792