Automated Pain Detection from Facial Expressions using FACS: A Review

Zhanli Chen, Rashid Ansari, Diana Wilkie

Facial pain expression is an important modality for assessing pain, especially when the patient's verbal ability to communicate is impaired. The facial muscle-based action units (AUs), which are defined by the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), have been widely studied and are highly reliable as a method for detecting facial expressions (FE) including valid detection of pain. Unfortunately, FACS coding by humans is a very time-consuming task that makes its clinical use prohibitive. Significant progress on automated facial expression recognition (AFER) has led to its numerous successful applications in FACS-based affective computing problems. However, only a handful of studies have been reported on automated pain detection (APD), and its application in clinical settings is still far from a reality. In this paper, we review the progress in research that has contributed to automated pain detection, with focus on 1) the framework-level similarity between spontaneous AFER and APD problems; 2) the evolution of system design including the recent development of deep learning methods; 3) the strategies and considerations in developing a FACS-based pain detection framework from existing research; and 4) introduction of the most relevant databases that are available for AFER and APD studies. We attempt to present key considerations in extending a general AFER framework to an APD framework in clinical settings. In addition, the performance metrics are also highlighted in evaluating an AFER or an APD system.

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