App Promises To Improve Pain Management For Dementia Patients

By Kayleigh Shooter
We take a look into an application being developed at the University of Alberta, that will help health-care staff assess and manage pain in patients wit...

We take a look into an application being developed at the University of Alberta, that will help health-care staff assess and manage pain in patients with dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. 

"The challenge with understanding pain in patients with dementia is that the expressions of pain in these individuals are often mistaken for psychiatric problems," said Eleni Stroulia, who co-leads the project. "So we asked, how can we use technology to better understand the pain of people with dementia?"

The app will digitize a pen-and-paper observational checklist that past research has shown helps health-care workers, such as nurses, assess pain in their patients suffering from dementia.

"Our work is to develop an application for nurses to use, as well as a back-end repository that stores and manages this data safely," explained Stroulia. "This new research demonstrates the promising results from our initial trial."

In the trial, researchers compared the digital app on a tablet with the traditional pen-and-paper assessment. They found that nurses preferred to use the app with patients, and even reported that it helped them feel less stressed and burned out.

The researchers are now working to build an app that can be adopted more widely. Stroulia noted that the app will allow health-care workers to see more quickly whether pain management techniques are working or not, with individual patients. On a broader scale, widespread use of the tool could help improve the quality and efficacy of care for patients with dementia, she added.

"When we have this kind of data, we can build models to understand the impact of different interventions," said Stroulia. "This is what can change policy and care in the long term—an evidence-based policy that changes the state of how we practise medicine."

Along with Stroulia, the project is led by Thomas Hadjistavropoulos at the University of Regina as part of AGE-WELL, a national network that aims to help older Canadians maintain their independence, health and quality of life through accessible technologies.
 

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University of Alberta: 

The University of Alberta in Edmonton is one of Canada's top teaching and research universities, with an international reputation for excellence across the humanities, sciences, creative arts, business, engineering and health sciences. 

Within a vibrant and supportive learning environment, the University of Alberta discovers, disseminates and applies new knowledge through teaching and learning, research and creative activity, community involvement and partnerships. The U of A gives a national and international voice to innovation in our province, taking a lead role in placing Canada at the global forefront. 

The university is one of the world's top research universities-fourth in Canada and eighty-first in the world for research impact. From making discoveries that answer fundamental questions to building new businesses and industries, to improving human health and fostering social change, our researchers are at the forefront of advancing knowledge for the benefit of all.

Source: MedicalPress

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