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APANICU 1.0 : Automated system for the assessment of pain in newborns admitted in intensive care units

Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Carrer de l`Escorxador, Tarragona, Espanya


Nurse in charge: Josep Oriol Casanovas Marsal, PhD

Entity/Agency in charge:  Departament d’Infermeria, Grup d’Investigació Smart Health Research Group (Departament d’Enginyeria Informàtica i Matemàtiques) – Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Hospital Universitari Joan XXIII de Tarragona.


The APANICU 1.0 project is a prototype for the assessment of pain / discomfort of newborns admitted to neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Using scales of preexisting values ​​validated by the scientific community, such as the scales of pain relief for newborns, APANICU 1.0 is capable of capturing the alteration of the physiological parameters (blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation) and the alteration of the behavioral parameters (frowning, movement of legs and arms and weeping) through automatic learning and artificial intelligence (a kinect camera located above the incubator and a high precision microphone set inside the incubator) providing with a number that reflects the amount of pain that the newborn is suffering.

The prototype consists of three modules. The first module or acquisition of data captures and stores the physiological and behavioral parameters obtained from the newborn. The second module or assessment of pain / discomfort analyzes and executes the values ​​obtained from the last module and shows an amount of pain that the newborn suffers through a created algorithm. The third module or register and alarms alerts healthcare professionals when the newborn experiences pain.

APANICU 1.0 is part of the call made by WHO during 2015, when reports of the organization stated that in the world 15 million premature babies are born each year. 25000 individuals in Spain every year. On the other hand, the assessment of the pain of newborns in the NICUs is still a pending issue due to the lack of standardization and unification of protocols both at the national and international levels for the evaluation of pain. The JCAHO during the nineties already published that the pain was evaluated as the fifth vital constant. Having pain at the beginning of life can lead to future consequences and, the first measure to treat pain, is to evaluate it correctly.

Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Carrer de l`Escorxador, Tarragona, Espanya

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