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Catching a Breath – Wirelessly
This diagram shows how a network
of 20 wireless transceivers send
radio waves crisscrossing a
person on a bed;© University of
Because the technique uses off-the-shelf wireless transceivers similar to those used in home computer networks, “the cost of this system will be cheaper than existing methods of monitoring breathing,” says Neal Patwari, senior author of a study of the new method.
While he estimates it will be five years until such a product is on the market, Patwari says a network of wireless transceivers around a bed can measure breathing rates and alert someone if breathing stops without any tubes or wires connected to the patient.
“We can use this to increase the safety of people who are under sedation after surgery by knowing if they stop breathing,” he says. “We also envision a product that parents put around their baby’s crib to alert them if the baby stops breathing. It might be useful for babies at risk of SIDS.”
“The American Academy of Paediatrics recognises that monitors may be helpful to allow rapid recognition of apnoea, airway obstruction, respiratory failure, interruption of supplemental oxygen supply, or failure of mechanical respiratory support,” the group states.
In addition to other possible uses, Patwari wants to conduct research with doctors to test his method as an infant-breathing monitor, and, if it proves useful, develop it as a medical device that would need federal approval. He also says it may be useful for adults with sleep apnoea, which causes daytime fatigue and impairs a person’s performance.
Patwari says that with the new method, “the patient or the baby doesn’t have to be connected to tubes or wired to other sensors, so they can be more comfortable while sleeping. If you’re wired up, you’re going to have more trouble sleeping, which is going to make your recovery in the hospital worse.”
Some opposition to SIDS monitors is based on a fear that parents will depend on monitors instead of following other, more effective medical measures, including always placing babies on their backs to sleep, keeping redundant bedding and soft objects out of the crib, and not having babies share a bed with adults.
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Utah