Detecting autonomic response to pain in Rett syndrome

Heather M. O’Leary, Peter B. Marschik, Omar S. Khwaja, Eugenia Ho, Katherine V. Barnes, Tessa W. Clarkson, Natalie M. Bruck, Walter E. Kaufmann

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Scopus citations


    Objective: To quantify pain response in girls affected by Rett syndrome (RTT) using electrodermal activity (EDA), a measure of skin conductance, reflecting sympathetic activity known to be modulated by physical and environmental stress. Methods: EDA increase, heart rate (HR) increase and Face Legs Activity Cry Consolability (FLACC) values calculated during venipuncture (invasive) and vital signs collection (non-invasive) events were compared with values calculated during a prior baseline and a RTT clinical severity score (CSS). Results: EDA and HR increase were significantly higher than baseline during venipuncture only and not significantly correlated with FLACC or CSS. EDA increase was the most sensitive measure of pain response. Conclusions: These preliminary findings revealed that motor impairment might bias non-verbal pain scales, underscore the importance of using autonomic measures when assessing pain and warrant further investigation into the utility of using EDA to objectively quantify RTT pain response to inform future RTT pain management.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)108-114
    Number of pages7
    JournalDevelopmental Neurorehabilitation
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Feb 17 2017


    • Electrodermal activity
    • FLACC
    • Rett syndrome
    • heart rate
    • pain
    • skin conductance

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
    • Rehabilitation
    • Developmental Neuroscience


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