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Dementia pain reduction innovation receives $5 million Government grant

The Federal Government has given funding to an artificial intelligence (AI) technology trial which aims to reduce dementia sufferers pain.

The app, Painchek® would bring a voice to those struggling to express their pain levels. [Source: Shutterstock]
The app, Painchek® would bring a voice to those struggling to express their pain levels. [Source: Shutterstock]

The app, called PainChek®, is a smartphone-based system for caregivers and health professionals which uses AI to determine pain using facial recognition analytics.

Pain in people with dementia can add to behavioural and psychological symptoms, and also result in wrong prescriptions of antipsychotic medication.

PainChek® Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Philip Daffas, says the funding would allow a bigger pool of application which will improve the app’s effectiveness.

Mr Daffas says, “This [grant] is welcome, given the significant benefits behind reported at the dozens of residential aged care centres that already use PainChek®.

“It will provide quality of access to all residential aged care homes and their residents living with dementia and fits with our extensive clinical studies which have been conducted on people living with moderate to severe dementia.

“This will help refine how the app can be integrated into everyday clinical care, where PainChek® effectively gives a voice to people who cannot verbalise the pain.”

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, says that more than 50 percent of residents in aged care homes live with dementia, which means the likelihood of pain being under-treated is a very real risk.

Since identifying pain within dementia sufferers can be difficult when there are communication barriers, this app would bring a voice to those struggling to express their pain levels.

Mr Wyatt says, “This is Australian innovation to help some of our most vulnerable Australians.

“Better pain identification and better medication management means a better quality of life for people receiving aged care.

“This trial will complement the reforms already announced by the Morrison Government to improve medication management and provide a record boost to dementia prevention, treatment and support.”

The Liberal Government is also putting more funding into dementia research and support following their Federal Budget announcement.

The Medical Research Future Fund has $185 million to use over the next decade to create a Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission. This will be on top of the $200 million Boosting Dementia Research initiative.

The budget also has a $7.7 million investment to decrease the misuse of medicines in residential aged care. The investment will create working links between clinical pharmacists and residential aged care providers to result in best practice use of medicines.

To find out more about how the PainChek® app works, read our previous articles here and here.

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