Stretchy Throat Sensor Tracks Health

Scientists at the Northwestern University developed a band-aid-like sensor, to be worn on the throat, according to a new study published on February 21, 2018.

The stretchy throat band is created to track all kinds of vital health information, sending it to a doctor, wirelessly.

“One of the biggest problems we face with stroke patients is that their gains tend to drop off when they leave the hospital. With the home monitoring enabled by these sensors, we can intervene at the right time, which could lead to better, faster recoveries for patients.” said Arun Jayaraman, a researcher who assisted in the field test of the wearable device.

The sensor looks similar to a large band-aid and is worn one each on either sides of the throat. The sensor sticks directly onto the skin and has the capable to measure a variety of data, including heart activity, muscle movement, sleep quality, swallowing ability, and patterns of speech.

Stroke rehabilitation primarily focuses on speech and swallowing and around a third of patients are known to experience communication difficulties after a stroke, while at least 40 percent experience initial difficulty in swallowing, which can contribute to a risk of infection.

This band enables easy tracking of the progress patients make related to speech and swallowing. It measures vibrations in vocal cords of patients.

“Talking with friends and family at home is a completely different dimension from what we do in therapy. Having a detailed understanding of patients’ communication habits outside of the clinic helps us develop better strategies with our patients to improve their speaking skills and speed up their recovery process.” said Leora Cherney, a research scientist.

The sensor is ideally meant to be used on the throat as well as the limbs and chest, providing doctor a broader overview of progress and areas of concern if any.

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