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The IU InterFACE Center at Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana
By Dawn Neumann, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and Research Associate, Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana
The IU Interactive and Functional Assessment of Communication and Emotion Center (InterFACE Center) at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana (RHI)) is a human observation laboratory designed to research emotions, social cognition, behaviors, and interpersonal interactions in clinical populations, and to empirically evaluate the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. The overall goal of the clinical research generated from the IU InterFACE Center is to guide evidence-based treatment approaches in rehabilitation facilities.
The IU InterFACE Center at RHI has a living room design and is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that as a whole is not found anywhere else in the world. This includes:
· High definition cameras
· Advanced eye-tracking capability
· Wireless equipment, such as, ECG, for monitoring physiological responses
· Impedance cardiography
· Finger pulse, galvanic skin response, respiration and EMG
· Automated facial expression analysis software
· Immersive virtual reality
There are two exciting projects underway in the IU InterFACE Center at RHI. The first pertains to the evaluation of facial affect recognition deficits after traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is prevalent in approximately 39 percent of patients with moderate to severe TBI.
This research examines participants’ ability to identify facial expressions while recording their visual scanning patterns, physiological responses, and neural activity during facial affect recognition tasks. The study compares participants with TBI who have impairments recognizing facial expressions to participants with TBI and healthy controls who have normal facial affect recognition.
This study, currently in the data analysis stage, is a collaborative project between the IU Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department and the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at the Neuroscience Center. Eye-tracking and physiological data were recorded at the IU InterFACE Center at RHI, and brain activity was measured at the Neuroscience Center using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Key investigators include Drs. Dawn Neumann, Michelle Keiski, Brenna McDonald, Yang Wang and Mr. John West.
The second project is a collaboration between two IU School of Medicine departments: Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Emergency Medicine. Dr. Jeffrey Kline, professor of Emergency Medicine and Vice Chair of Research, is an expert in the assessment and treatment of pulmonary embolism. He proposes that the facial expressions of patients who come to the Emergency Department (ED) complaining of cardiopulmonary symptoms provide important information about the person’s health. Concern and uncertainty about the risk for pulmonary embolism commonly leads to expensive, and often unnecessary computerized tomographic pulmonary angiography (CTPA) testing.
Using the automated facial analyses software in the IU InterFACE Center at RHI, Dr. Kline and Dr. Neumann are collaborating on a study to empirically test the predictive value of patients’ facial expressions as an indicator of serious illness. In the ED, patients’ facial expressions in response to stimuli meant to evoke an emotional response are recorded and compared to their response to a neutral stimulus. Patient videos are sent to the IU InterFACE Center for analyses. The working hypothesis, which was supported in an earlier pilot study, is that patients with more serious diagnoses have less variability in their facial expressions in response to emotional stimuli.
These two projects illustrate the type of meaningful work and the unique multi-disciplinary collaborations that are possible through the IU InterFACE Center at RHI. It is exciting to imagine the advanced levels of research that can be accomplished through the resources available at the IU InterFACE Center at RHI. The Center has great potential to accelerate clinical implementation of evidenced-based research into rehabilitation practice.