Rashidi awarded NBIB Trailblazer R21 Award

Dr. Parisa Rashidi, assistant professor, was recently awarded a National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) Trailblazer R21 Award for assessing pain management in ICU patients.

The under-assessment of pain response is one of the primary barriers to the adequate treatment of pain in critically ill patients and is associated with many negative outcomes such as chronic pain after discharge, prolonged mechanical ventilation, longer ICU stay and increased mortality risk.

Currently, existing nonverbal pain assessment scales are based on manual assessment by trained nurses of a patients’ facial expressions and the patients’ activity such as guarding or restlessness. Furthermore, manual pain assessment tools cannot monitor pain continuously and autonomously.

Rashidi and her team will equip two 24-bed ICU units with wearable inertial sensors and color-depth cameras. They will recruit 200 patients, and will capture highly-granular data on facial expressions and body movements for up to seven days.

Rashidi’s central hypothesis is that she can autonomously assess facial pain expressions and patient activity. Additionally, activity recognition will provide means for automated pain contextualization with respect to patient function. Rashidi’s rationale is that autonomous pain quantification can reduce nurse workload and can enable real-time pain monitoring.

Rashidi will collaborate with UF experts in acute pain medicine (Co-I: Dr. Patrick Tighe, associate professor, Departments of Anesthesiology, Orthopaedics and Information Systems, College of Medicine) and critical care (Co-I: Dr. Azra Bihorac, professor, Department of Nephrology, Hypertension and Renal Transplantation, College of Medicine).

The objective is to build the foundation of an autonomous, clinically-available pain assessment system by developing and validating pain recognition algorithms in a fully uncontrolled ICU setting. The proposed research is relevant to public health because it can result in enhanced critical care workflow, ultimately improving patient outcomes and decreasing hospitalization costs.

The Trailblazer R21 Award is an opportunity for new and early stage investigators to pursue research programs of high interest to the NIBIB at the interface of the life sciences with engineering and the physical sciences.