Sleep disorders are common in the industrialized world, but it is often difficult to identify the reason. Anyone who wants to find out why they are sleeping so badly has only one recourse: an overnight stay in a sleep laboratory, where up to 24 vital parameters are monitored during the night. These data allow the underlying cause of the disorder to be diagnosed and an appropriate treatment to be prescribed.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS has developed an alternative: the “portable sleep laboratory”. The novel monitoring instrument can be strapped on unassisted by patients at home, and does not restrict their freedom of movement. Only four sensors are needed to collect data on sleeping position, pulse rate, heartbeat and blood oxygen concentration.
Christian Weigand, who heads the IIS research group for medical communication and sensor systems, confirms that this is sufficient to produce a diagnosis of equal quality to that obtainable from a conventional sleep laboratory: “We have observed more than 50 patients under the usual sleep laboratory conditions, who at the same time were connected to our device. In this way, we were able to collect two sets of data and compare the results.”
The “bedside sleep laboratory” is strapped to the patient’s chest and transmits the recorded data over a standard wireless Bluetooth connection to a local base station in the patient’s home. This terminal automatically processes the data and transmits them via a custom-designed server over a secure, encrypted link to a terminal in the doctor’s office. The device is currently being tested at the university hospitals of Marburg and Nürnberg on a total of 30 sleep-disorder patients.
MEDICA.de; Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft