Humans are generally good at using nonverbal cues like facial expressions to deceive others (think poker face). We are especially good at mimicking pain, knowing how to make the facial expressions that show physical discomfort. On the other hand, studies show that humans do a particularly poor job of detecting those deceptions and knowing when someone is mimicking pain.

Enter a computer.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have programmed a computer to detect when a person’s face reveals genuine or faked pain. In fact, it’s much more accurate than human observers. The New York Times reports that this may be the first time that a computer has triumphed over humans at reading our own species.

The new software has many applications, one of which is that it could be used as a diagnostic aid for physicians and other health professionals. Read more.

 Did you know that chronic pain affects one in four Americans? It’s a major public health problem. People with chronic pain can have an increased dependency on others and difficulty participating in everyday activities.

Often, the pain is intractable and is not relieved by available medical approaches.

Occupational therapy uses a self-management approach to chronic pain by focusing on helping individuals participate in daily activities in adaptive ways. Performance problems are assessed and evidence-based therapeutic approaches are used to address the client’s goal. Occupational therapy is a necessary component of any comprehensive pain rehabilitation program.

Share more about occupational therapy’s role with chronic pain with AOTA’s new fact sheet.

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