WXXI AM News

Study aims to expand technology that uncovers physical signs of abuse

Feb 14, 2018

Credit freeimages.com/Julia Freeman-Woolpert

Technology that uncovers the physical signs of domestic violence is the subject of a two year study at the University of Rochester.

ALS, short for alternative light source, detects bruising that isn't immediately visible to the naked eye.

"As soon as someone is injured, blood begins to pool below the top layer of the skin,” said John Cullen, assistant director of UR’s Susan B. Anthony Center. “This technology allows us to see that bruising immediately as it happens. Otherwise, you'd have to wait a couple of days before you could see it with the naked eye."

But it doesn't work very well for those with darker skin.  That's why optics scientists are trying to develop technology that shows bruising below the melanin layers of the skin. 

Cullen says ALS has other potential applications, such as uncovering evidence of elder abuse.

"Or even if someone has severe dementia or Alzheimer's and can't say where they hurt. This technology could be used to look over their body and in case they've fallen and see the problem earlier, otherwise it would take a couple of days to see it with the naked eye."

As part of the study, researchers will document how the evidence can be used to obtain orders of protection for victims of abuse.

To hear an interview with Cullen, click on the LISTEN link above.