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Smart shirt monitors patients with chronic diseases

Smart shirt monitors patients with chronic diseases

[Vicenza, Italy/ Medicine] - The EC funded Chronious project has developed a wearable remote monitoring system for the chronically ill. Developed by a consortium of 14 partners in eight European countries, the system is designed specifically for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients, although it could easily be adapted for patients suffering from a variety of other long-term disorders.

Wearable heart, respiratory and activity monitoring sensors fitted to a light-weight T-shirt are used alongside external devices such as a digital weight scale, glucometer, blood pressure monitor, spirometer and air quality sensor in the patient′s home or room to measure vital, physical and environmental signs. These are connected to a mobile device such as a smartphone or PDA which in turn transmits the patient′s data to their care provider where it is analysed by software.

An open modular platform means different types of sensor can be used depending on the individual patient′s condition, making the system particularly adaptable to cases of comorbidity in which patients are living with two or more kinds of disorder such as CKD and diabetes. For CKD patients in particular, the Chronious team developed an innovative food intake program with a simple user interface so their diets can be closely monitored.

Advantages of remote monitoring

“For doctors, one of the big advantages of this approach is that the data is highly accurate. Patients are being monitored every day as they live their normal lives, so a better picture of their symptoms and progress can be used to determine treatments,” said Dr Roberto Rosso, Project Co-ordinator and R&D Manager at Italian telehealth provider Tesan. “For example, eating correctly is crucial for reducing CKD symptoms, but current practice relies on patients filling in questionnaires about what they eat when they go for a check-up and the information they provide may not be entirely accurate.

“In the case of chronic diseases, in particular, any change or incident that is not treated in time can exacerbate symptoms and accelerate the patient′s deterioration. Catching changes quickly can have a major impact on their long-term health and progress. On the other hand, using this remote monitoring technology means that if the patients′ health remains stable then there is no need for them to visit their doctor for check-ups.”

Further development

The Chronious team has been awarded EU funding for a follow-up project called Chromed in which the researchers plan to carry out more extensive trials with at least 300 patients in Spain, Estonia, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK.

The consortium partners are also developing the technology commercially for both the healthcare industry and other sectors — an Italian rugby team has expressed interest in using the wearable sensor platform to monitor and measure players′ performance during training sessions. Interest in the technology has also been shown from healthcare providers around the world, including the United States and China. [hw]

[Related information]

The Chronious project website

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