Adhesive Sensors Monitoring Patient Recovery From Strokes
Engineers from the lab of Northwestern University have created a ground-breaking new wearable design that can be worn on the throat for stroke rehabilitation. The stretchable electronic sensor is precise enough for use in advanced medical care and portable enough to be worn outside the hospital, even during strenuous exercise.
Traditional tools used to monitor patients’ speech function such as microphones cannot differentiate between ambient noise and a patient’s voice.
Engineering professor John A. Rogers, PhD, says, “Our sensors solve that problem by measuring vibrations of the vocal chords,” Rogers said. “But they only work when worn directly on the throat, which is a very sensitive area of the skin. We developed novel materials for this sensor that bend and stretch with the body, minimising discomfort to patients.”
The device can measure their swallowing ability and help in diagnosing and treating aphasia, a communication disorder associated with stroke and can be used in conjunction with electronic biosensors on the legs, arms and chest to monitor stroke patients’ recovery progress.
Patients can wear them after they leave the hospital so that doctors can see how they function in the real world as the data can be streamed wirelessly to clinicians’ phones and computers, providing real time, full-body picture of patients’ advanced physical and physiological responses. This way they can help patients speed up the recovery process by improving their speaking skills and enable them to intervene at the right time.