DSA rolls out innovative electronic pain assessment tool

Monday 25 September, 2017

An app that reads pain levels in people who can no longer communicate will be used to support people living with dementia, speeding up diagnosis and treatment and improving the quality of lives.


An agreement between the app developer, Painchek Limited, and Dementia Support Australia (DSA), will see 150 expert consultants across Australia access the TGA Approved medical health technology in a global first.

“This technology allows consultants, who have been called to assist with someone experiencing severe behaviour, to quickly identify if that person is in pain,” Associate Professor Colm Cunningham said.

“An outcome of dementia can be a loss of ability to communicate, and when that person is in pain, it sometimes displays in aggressive behaviour 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,” Associate Professor Cunningham said.

The Painchek App is a secure, validated, TGA approved medical device 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. 



Painchek 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 the Painchek App is a valid and reliable pain assessment tool for people with moderate to severe dementia, who can no longer self-report their pain.

“We believe this study is the first time a pain assessment tool using automated facial recognition technology and a smart device to assess people with dementia has been clinically validated in the residential aged care setting,” said Mustafa Atee, ePAT’s Scientific Officer.“It gives us great confidence that the arrangement with DSA will be a resounding success.” 

Commencing in WA and SA from late September 2017 the app will be fully embedded across the DSA by January 2018.