technology to measure pain

Anicet Mbida

Every day, Anicet Mbida makes us discover an innovation that could well change the way we consume. This Wednesday, he is interested in electrotherapy, a technology for measuring pain.

A medical advance this morning: we finally know how to accurately measure pain in all those who cannot express themselves: babies, unconscious people and even animals.

This means that we will be able to better dose their painkiller treatments. And above all check that they are effective. Because it must be said, for a long time, everything was done with a wet finger. We looked at the facial expressions, the grimaces… But in some paralyzed people, there are no signs. And in babies, you’re never sure it’s pain. It can simply be discomfort or hunger. Worse: until the mid-1980s, many scientists were convinced that babies did not have the brains developed enough to feel pain. In the mid 80’s! Fortunately, all that has changed.

But how do we manage to accurately measure pain?

With simple electrodes. They are glued to specific places on the torso or the skull. They will analyze nerve activity or brain activity. And the signals are then interpreted by a program to quantify the level of pain experienced. It’s quite simple, but it took years of research to obtain results that were both reliable and precise. The technique is currently being developed by several startups. In particular the French of Mdorloris. Advantage: it works without needles, without inserting a probe. There are just a few electrodes to stick on. It would still be a shame to hurt yourself to check that you are not in pain.

And is it already used in operating rooms?

More and more because it allows doctors to finally have a benchmark, to precisely quantify the degree of suffering of a patient or even an animal. And to make sure that the painkiller has enough effect. This avoids all the undesirable effects of overdoses which can lead to sometimes serious side effects. And then we remind you: managing pain well is not just a question of comfort. If the body struggles too much, it ends up weakening. Sometimes to a point that can become vital. So managing the pain is also part of the therapy.

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