New Smartphone App Could Help COPD Patients

Enter a new smartphone app that aims to use technology to help COPD sufferers to recognize emergencies, and avoid unnecessary doctors’ or ER visits.

 

 

Ted Smith is the CEO of Revon Systems, a tech company based in East Louisville, and the developer of the “Smart COPD” app. The app is designed on a simple premise: that some of those emergency room visits could have been prevented if people were able to track their symptoms.

“The focus of the app is helping you keep track of whether your systems are starting to deteriorate so that you don’t have to get to a point where you have to go to the hospital for emergency care” Smith said.

When you open the app, it poses a series of questions: “Shortness of breath?” “Cough?” and “Running nose or feeling like you have a cold?” It also asks for temperature, and for users to punch in the readings from a separate device that measures oxygen saturation and heart rate.

Finally, the app evaluates the information and tells the user whether they need to head to the ER, call their doctor, check back in a few days or that no medical attention is needed.

It’s simple, and requires only a cell phone and a cheap finger oxygen and heart rate monitor.

 

“People have telephones, they’re our life line. So putting a self-management tool on a cell phone is just a genius idea,” Montague said.

He sees that as a possible opportunity for Smart COPD to reach more people with low-incomes.

“If there’s one thing I wish for, it’s that we take advantage of something we’re already paying for as a society and turn it into health care,” Smith said.

Interested? Search for ‘Revon Systems’ in your App store and look for the “Smart COPD” app.

 

 

Reference: http://wfpl.org/local-entrepreneur-creates-copd-app-shows-hope-for-louisvillians/

Interactive Medical Drones

By combining the two technologies, drones and telemedicine, a doctor miles away could instruct a layman at the scene in how to provide rudimentary, but perhaps life-saving, medical care.

Subbarao’s project, which he began the year after the Hattiesburg tornado, has now produced three prototypes and conducted several demonstration flights. It appears to be the most advanced attempt to equip a drone with audiovisual equipment so doctors and survivors can interact in an emergency.  Emergency management officials from Dallas, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., have reached out to him, as have officials from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

 

Drone technology has been around for at least half a century, and for years people in health care have speculated about the medical use of drones, for example to transport medicines, organs for transplants, blood supplies and anti-venom serums.

Lee Smithson, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said, “This is going to be a phenomenal way to provide immediate medical attention anywhere in the state.” Noting Mississippi’s frequent poor rankings among states in measures of well-being, he added, “It’s about time that Mississippi leads the nation in something good for a change.”

The plan, Smithson said, is to eventually station a drone in as many as nine different areas of the state, so every place in Mississippi is within two hours of a medical drone.

Chris Sawyer, medical director of Remote Area Medical, isn’t surprised by the broad interest in the project. “It is revolutionary,” he said.

It’s also not altogether a surprise that the idea of an interactive medical drone arose in Mississippi. The state is frequently visited by tornadoes, some of which have caused substantial numbers of deaths and injuries. The state has a shortage of doctors and, according to Smithson, many areas of the state cannot be reached quickly by medical responders.

 

The current prototypes can only fly up to 5 miles, at speeds up to 40 mph, Lott says, but he’s working on another model that could travel far greater distances, up to 100 miles.

The drones carry a suitcase with medical supplies and equipment. The audiovisual equipment comes in two varieties: stand-alone cameras with microphones and speakers, and interactive goggles that can be worn by someone on the ground. In either case, a doctor from a remote location could instruct a survivor to train the camera on victims or parts of the body to assess their condition.

 

The doctor could give instructions on taking readings such as blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, or sugar or oxygen levels, using equipment dropped by the drone. And the doctor could talk a survivor through ways of giving aid, such as applying tourniquets, cleaning, clotting or bandaging wounds, and injecting medicines.

 

WILLIAM CAREY UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE

Reference:Huff Post

Sensors that could internally monitor your body then dissolve and Vanish!

The medical world has used sensors for a long time now from pacemakers to insulin pumps to help monitor various bodily signals from blood pressure to heart rate but these sensors are cumbersome, involve wires, internal sensors require surgical implantation and removal and they can get in the way of clothing and mobility. The standard hardware also carries risks of causing infection, scarring and provoking immune reactions and rejection. With ever increasing numbers of people living longer and suffering from long-term chronic conditions, the need for being able to monitor your body more effectively and in more detail in order for medicine to be most effective in treatment has also increased.

sensor

Technology has advanced enough now that scientists have created tiny sensors that can be positioned internally or externally on your body and are made of materials that can just simply dissolve away once their duty has been performed.

They would constantly monitor the functioning of your organs and tissues, transmit this information to your computer, harmlessly dissolve in the body when their job is done and detect the earliest sign of malfunction when medical intervention is easiest. Some of these devices can even make medical interventions themselves. The new electronic devices are woven into the body, do not provoke an immune reaction and are almost imperceptible to the user. “Epidermal electronics” are very thin patches that stick on the skin and can accommodate the normal bending, stretching and swelling motions of the body. These devices are biodegradable and packed with sensors that can detect almost all the vital signs, including temperature, pulse, heart electrical activity, hydration, Parkinson’s disease tremors and can detect increased stiffness in arteries, which is a predictor of heart attacks.

The dissolving electronic implant is like a more sophisticated version of dissolving sutures, but can be injected into organs and cavities and come with WiFi. The chips are made from silicon, which is inert and wont provoke an immune reaction and magnesium of which we have a RDA of 8 of these chips a day so it wont cause an overdose. A polymer coat keeps the chip from dissolving straight away but slowly wears away over a few days; the thicker the coating the longer the sensor will last.

Sensors like this will revolutionize treatment as sensors can monitor exactly what is going on inside our bodies every second of the day. It will enable scientists and doctors to understand how disease progresses and why to enable new treatments and medications as well as allowing the patient to be monitored more closely from blood pressure and oxygen levels to temperature and internal brain pressure and concentration levels of various compounds within our bodies such as medications.

With those with chronic or long-term conditions such as COPD, heart disease, transplant or cancer patients on-going monitoring can indicate to doctors at the earliest possible moment when treatment needs to be altered to reduce further damage to your body and to improve your outcome. It can also indicate the earliest moment of rejection of tissue to allow an immediate response. Being able to adjust oxygen therapy flow or medications on a daily basis depending on your health status at that moment with allow for an improved quality of life as you can be more in control of your own treatment and it will always be the most optimal level of treatment as well as being more carefully understood and monitored to allow for a better outcome or increased life expectancy.

References: http://www.irishtimes.com and http://www.extremetech.com

Your phone can now measure oxygen levels

Wrist-oximeter

Professor Schatz and colleagues at the college of medicine at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois have developed a smartphone app called ‘MoveSense’ which can monitor a patient’s oxygen saturation level by analysing the way they walk.

Patients suffering from cardiopulmonary disease could use this app to help them accurately monitor their condition and warn doctors early at first signs of trouble simply by carrying their phone around with them.

Unlike other methods of measuring oxygen saturation levels, which detect sharp drops causing desaturation, this app continuously monitors saturation, making the resulting patterns and trends possible to model accurately and visually.

“The ability to accurately measure oxygen saturation without the use of a pulse oximeter is something that has never been achieved, until now. The oximeter, a non-invasive medical device usually placed on the patient’s finger, measures the proportion of oxygen in the blood, combining status of the two major circulatory systems, the heart and the lung. The saturation level is an overall measure of the patient’s cardiopulmonary fitness,” said Schatz.

In a previous discovery Schatz realised that phone sensors can accurately measure people’s walking patterns or gait. Doctor’s often use a 6 Min walk test for patients with heart failure or COPD to provide information regarding a patient’s functional capacity and response to therapy.

It was tested out on patients who used both a pulse oximeter and the phone app at the same time so that results could be compared and that a gait model could be computed to predict transitions in oxygen saturation.

The researcher’s discovered that oxygen saturation readings clustered patients into three pulmonary function categories: one with high saturation, with low saturation and one with variable unstable saturation. In addition they discovered that analysis of the saturation combined with gait data could predict saturation category with 100% accuracy.

The ability to predict the saturation category of the patient internally from the motion of the patient externally is remarkable. This new capability will allow medical professionals to monitor patients’ vital signs, predict their clinical stability, and act quickly should their condition decline. Patients just need to carry their personal phones during daily living, as testing has shown that periodic samples are sufficient and that even inexpensive smartphones are powerful enough to record these.

“A discovery like this will impact general medicine, many medical specialities, and the lives of millions of people suffering from chronic cardiopulmonary diseases.”

 

 

References: http://www.med.illinois.edu

Biology meets technology to produce oxygen

London’s ecoLogicStudio has designed a prototype of its urban algae canopy. It is the “world’s first bio-digital canopy that integrates micro-algal cultures and real time digital cultivation protocols on a unique architectural system” with flows of water and energy regulated by weather patterns and visitor usage.

tech

This is a ‘bio-digital’ structure that combines biology with technology. In the structure there is fluid filled with micro-algae organisms that are pumped around a transparent canopy which provides shade to the space underneath the canopy. It also produces energy in the form of biomass and produces a large amount of oxygen. An additional feature is that the structure can respond to the presence of visitors by producing interesting visual effects.

In the presence of sunlight the micro-algae will photosynthesise naturally and grow in numbers and volume which turns the almost transparent fluid into a deeper shade of green to provide shade to anyone standing underneath the structure. This means that the structure is weather=pattern dependent and will produce more in the presence of high levels of sunlight.

The interactive parts works by electro valves in the structure being triggered by the presence of someone walking into each different area of the canopy. The valves alter the speed at which the fluid flows through the canopy creating different colour shades and effects.

The prototype will hopefully be scaled up to a larger installation that will be able to provide the same amount of oxygen as four hectares of woodland and also produce 150kg of biomass.
Using micro-algae colonies rather than relying on woodland photosynthesis also results in a massive reduction in the amount of CO2 produced which benefits the atmosphere.

Integrating organic systems with artificial ones opens up possibilities for everything from temperature control to power generation methods using the advantages of both natural and digital parts. There are even designs being put forward for smog-eating algae street lamps among many other fascinating ideas.

As ecoLogicStudio puts it: “We believe that it is now time to overcome the segregation between technology and nature typical of the mechanical age, to embrace a systemic understanding of architecture. In this prototype the boundaries between the material, spatial and technological dimensions have been carefully articulated to achieve efficiency, resilience and beauty.”

References: http://www.gizmag.com and http://weburbanist.com

Would You Like Your Very Own Robot?!

robot

Home Oxygen Therapy is a medical treatment for patients suffering from chronic lung diseases. It involves the use of an oxygen concentrator to deliver oxygen via a nasal cannula or face mask to the patient and some may require being tethered to the machine on a constant basis. COPD is an umbrella term for these conditions and patients have restricted airflow through the lungs and experience coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. The effect on quality of life can be significant and some are unable to participate in physical activities and require help to move. Home oxygen therapy aims to improve the patient’s freedom, health and quality of life by allowing treatment at home. Patients are encouraged to try and maintain a certain level of activity as research has shown that if exercise and mobility are retained then lung capacity and respiration improves.

However some patients find this difficult as they are tethered to a pressurized oxygen container via tubing and the weight, which is typically 4kg, can make transporting and lifting awkward especially for the more elderly patients. Some patients use a small hand cart to transport their equipment around or use a portable unit which they can carry over their shoulder.  Despite the huge benefits of H.O.T it still imposes restrictions on the user’s movements, mobility, ability to participate in certain activities and quality of life.

A Follower Robot has been devised to help improve these patient’s lives. The robot can carry the equipment thereby reducing the physical burden and increasing freedom of movement. It is capable of following the patient’s movements and can follow behind the patient. It is simple to use, low weight, compact and at a low cost.

They have started testing these robots on H.O.T users to see if they are indeed beneficial and can aid them in their daily activities efficiently. Most users have found the robot easy to use and to manoeuvre with. It is hoped that after more trials are completed it can be manufactured and sold commercially for COPD patients. These robots could drastically improve patient’s lives allowing them to easily move around and enjoy more out of life which could have a positive effect on their health also. More importantly, how amazing would it be to have your own robot?!

References:  http://www.robomechjournal.com and http://link.springer.com

Apple Watches Could Measure Your Blood Oxygen Levels

apple-watch-6_1

When the people at iFixit took the new Apple Watch apart they found something strange, there wasn’t the expected optical module you usually find to measure your blood flow rate but there is a pulse-oximeter which can measure your oxygen levels.

It works by shining a light through your skin and it measures changes in your blood flow. As your pulse increases it changes the light transmission through the skin which a sensor measures. Additionally it can test how oxygen levels affect the way your blood interacts with light. The more oxygen in your blood, the brighter the red of the blood and the more infrared light it absorbs.

This component is currently disabled in the Apple Watch for unknown reasons but it looks as if Apple hope in the future to allow their customers to be able to monitor their own blood oxygen levels.

Being able to do this would be incredibly useful for a lot of people. If you’re hiking you can get a better sense of how you’re adapting to high altitudes, an athlete can monitor their performance and those with medical conditions such as asthma can instantly see if their oxygen levels are dropping. For those using oxygen at home you could simultaneously see if the oxygen that you are breathing in is improving your oxygen levels. A record of your data would be stored as your activities alter throughout the day and your doctor could use these results to help improve your treatment.

There is a danger that people may use the device as a self-diagnostic tool with regards to their health. This may be one of the reasons that Apple has left it disabled for now. Also perhaps there are issues with the accuracy of the measurements. It may be that arm hair, sweat and dirt could prevent the infrared light sensors from being accurate enough.

The possibility that very soon in the future we may have yet another helpful device to help monitor our health at home is exciting and good news for many suffering chronic respiratory diseases. It would be a helpful way for many to understand how their disease affects their respiration throughout the day and enable them, with their doctor’s help, to react quickly to changes in their blood oxygen levels to improve their health and quality of life.

References:  http://thenextweb.com and http://venturebeat.com