Researchers at the University of Bologna in Italy recently worked on a systematic literature review to better understand the correlation between physical markers (heart rate, blood pressure, and other vitals) and pain. They reviewed 14 studies that had been published before October 2020 and included 528 patients. All of the studies that were included had details about the physiological signals and their association with pain, with nine of the studies reviewed using questionnaires and scales to determine parameters. The studies looked at different pain factors and methods of pain treatment. Patients had a wide range of ages and were at different stages of various forms of cancer. While there were a number of variables, it is expected that the study will still be able to help with the development of a pain assessment tool for cancer patients based on their physiological signals. The researchers are hoping that they will be able to create wearable sensors to better track the patients and their experiences to better assess pain and treatment
Over time, they hope to be able to develop the kind of tools that provide better pain management for individuals who have cancer. This would mean being able to interpret physiological signs that indicate pain intensity and length. Wearable sensors are one of the best ways to provide a more individual treatment to cancer sufferers.
The researchers realize that more needs to be understood besides the parameters, including the environment in which the patients’ lives and their relationships with their caregivers. Pain does not just result in physiological changes, so other elements will need to be considered to more effectively treat the pain. To do this, they realize that they need to be able to move to an approach that allows for remote monitoring. Pain can strike at any time, and since patients spend more time outside of facilities, remote monitoring will provide a lot more data points to determine how to treat them. AI and machine learning provide a fantastic way of interpreting vast amounts of data, so it will be possible to manage and review all of the data from remote devices. Ultimately, all of this is hoped to provide a much better way of managing pain.
If you or someone you know is suffering from cancer, you can check out the article at Cancer Pain: How Physiological Signals and Technology May Improve Assessment to see what is being done to address some of the current issues with managing pain caused by cancer.