CHICAGO, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) have developed a technology to help clinicians "see" and map patient pain in real-time through special augmented reality glasses.
The portable CLARAi (clinical augmented reality and artificial intelligence) platform combines visualization with brain data using neuroimaging to navigate through a patient's brain while they're in the chair, according to a news release posted on UM's website on Thursday.
In the study, researchers triggered pain by administering cold to the teeth, and then used brain pain data to develop algorithms that, when coupled with new software and neuroimaging hardware, predicted pain or the absence of it about 70 percent of the time.
Participants wore a sensor-outfitted cap that detected changes to blood flow and oxygenation, thus measuring brain activity and responses to pain. That information was transmitted to a computer and interpreted.
Wearing special augmented reality glasses, researchers viewed the subject's brain activity in real time on a reconstructed brain template, while the subjects sat in the clinical chair. The red and blue dots on the image denote location and level of brain activity, and this "pain signature" was mirror-displayed on the augmented reality screen. The more pain signatures the algorithm learns to read, the more accurate the pain assessment.
"It's very hard for us to measure and express our pain, including its expectation and associated anxiety," said Alex DaSilva, associate professor at the UM School of Dentistry and director of the Headache and Orofacial Pain Effort Lab. "Right now, we have a one to 10 rating system, but that's far from a reliable and objective pain measurement."
The technology was tested on 21 volunteer dental patients. It's years away from widespread use in a clinical setting, but the feasibility study is a good first step for dental patients, said DaSilva.
The study has been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.