Facial recognition app delivers better pain management for people living with dementia

Facial recognition app delivers better pain management for people living with dementia

A new pain recognition app that assesses pain levels in people with dementia is set to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of pain. The new app, called PainChek™ has specific application for people with dementia who have challenges with verbal communication to improve their quality of lives.

PainChek™ is a secure, validated, TGA cleared application that uses artificial intelligence and smartphone technology to visually analyse facial expressions, assess pain levels in real time and update medical records in the cloud.

Australian developer, ePAT Technologies has announced a partnership with dementia specialist, Dementia Support Australia (DSA), which will see 150 expert consultants across Australia using the TGA Approved medical health technology with up to 5,000 people with dementia each year. The agreement is a global first.

“This technology allows consultants, who have been called to assist someone with dementia, to understand the cause of a perceived severe behaviour, enabling them to quickly identify if that person is in pain,” said Associate Professor Colm Cunningham from Dementia Support Australia.

Colm Cunningham, Director of the Dementia Centre, speaks with Channel Ten Melbourne ahead of the launch on October 17.

“An outcome of dementia can be a loss of ability to communicate and when that person is in pain it is sometimes displayed in frustration or behaviour that is out of character. As a result, pain for people living with dementia may often go undetected or under-treated. DSA estimates that more than 70% of their clients are experiencing under-treated or undiagnosed pain which impacts their quality of life significantly,” said Professor Cunningham.

Sue Pieters-Hawke, who is a National Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Australia and co-chairs the Federal Dementia Forum, said that better assessment of pain could help improve support for people living with dementia and others whose pain may not be being recognised.

“We’ve long known that pain is a seriously under-recognised and under-treated issue for many people with dementia. This has caused so much unnecessary suffering, and continues to do so. I am hopeful this app can play a role in providing proper diagnosis and management of pain, and contribute to reducing the frequent misattribution of so called ‘behaviours’ to people suffering from our ignorance,” she said.

ePAT CEO, Philip Daffas, said he was delighted to have the opportunity to work with the Dementia Support Australia team to improve the quality of life for people with dementia in Australia.

“We believe this is a unique combination of two Australian organisations working together to achieve a common goal in dementia,” he said.

A recent peer reviewed study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that PainChek™ is a valid and reliable pain assessment tool for people with moderate to severe dementia, who can no longer self-report their pain.

“The research behind the app gives us great confidence that the arrangement with DSA will be a resounding success,” said Daffas.

Following the announcement today, it is expected that PainChek will be fully embedded across the DSA by early 2018.


1. PainChek artificial intelligence assesses facial micro-expressions that are indicative of the presence.
2. PainChek six domains of pain assessment that calculates pain severity score.

About Dementia Support Australia:

Dementia Support Australia (DSA) is a partnership, led by HammondCare that provides the national Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service and Severe Behaviour Response Teams.

DSA provides support and advice to carers of people with dementia who have behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia that are impacting on their care. DSA is available to assist in community, residential and acute settings.

Funding comes from the Commonwealth Government.

About ePAT

ePAT Technologies Limited is an Australian based company that has developed mobile medical applications to provide pain assessment for individuals who are unable to communicate verbally with their carers.