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US Army seeking 'objective' pain measurement system for soldiers

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The US Army is taking proposals that include an "objective" way to measure pain rather than relying on self-reporting.

Wong-Baker Pain Scale
Wong-Baker Pain Scale

The US Army Medical Research and Material Command is hoping to change the way its doctors think about pain. A call for proposals is looking for a system of imaging or sensors that would take an "objective" measurement of soldiers' pain rather than one that's self-reported. In some cases, the military would use this for soldiers who had been sedated or were otherwise unresponsive; in others, it could simply help supplement the normal self-reporting process. The military hopes that by better diagnosing pain, doctors can prevent chronic symptoms from persisting after the wound is healed.

This research project will likely be difficult to crack, but the Army has also got several other proposals on the table. Among other things, it's looking for a universal data system that will let hospitals transfer records more easily, "Watson-like technologies" to aid in medical care, and wearable medical sensors that can be powered by movement or breathing. If any of these pan out, they'll be used first for warfighters, but civilians will probably see benefits down the line as well.