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infants’ pain assessment, dynamic facial representation, profile view, gestational age, gender, race

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Infants’ early exposure to painful procedures can have negative short and long-term effects on cognitive, neurological, and brain development. However, infants cannot express their subjective pain experience, as they do not communicate in any language. Facial expression is the most specific pain indicator, which has been effectively employed for automatic pain recognition. In this paper, dynamic pain facial expression representation and fusion scheme for automatic pain assessment in infants is proposed by combining temporal appearance facial features and temporal geometric facial features. We investigate the effects of various factors that influence pain reactivity in infants, such as individual variables of gestational age, gender, and race. Different automatic infant pain assessment models are constructed, depending on influence factors as well as facial profile view, which affect the model ability of pain recognition. It can be concluded that the profile-based infant pain assessment is feasible, as its performance is almost as good as that of the whole face. Moreover, gestational age is the most influencing factor for pain assessment, and it is necessary to construct specific models depending on it. This is mainly because of a lack of behavioral communication ability in infants with low gestational age, due to limited neurological development. To our best knowledge, this is the first study investigating infants’ pain recognition, highlighting profile facial views and various individual variables.

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Journal of Clinical Medicine, v. 7, issue 7, art. 173