Technology 3 min read

Smart Shirt for Potential Monitoring of Lung Disease Developed

Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

A more accurate way of taking breathing measurements and monitoring lung disease is now possible, thanks to a new smart shirt called Hexoskin.

Imagine a smart shirt that can measure your breathing and send the collected data to a smartphone for analysis. Sounds a bit far-fetched, right?

Based on the current advancement in wearable technology, no – not really. Not only do such shirts already exist, but according to a presentation at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, it could be a more effective way of monitoring COPD.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an obstructive lung disease that’s characterized by long-term breathing problem and poor airflow. Some of the symptoms include coughing and breathlessness.

Although COPD has no cure, it can be treated through effective monitoring. As these symptoms increases, health professionals have to monitor the patient closely.

There’s just one problem.

The symptoms first occur during daily activities like house chores, or climbing stairs. As a result, health professionals often have to depend on pieces of clinic equipment such as exercise bike, face mask, and computers to provide an insight into the patient’s health.

As you may have guessed, these pieces of equipment are not practical for measuring everyday activities. And that’s where the smart shirt comes in.

Smart shirts have existed for a while now. But only professionals and amateur athletes tend to wear them.

Researcher, Denise Mannée and her colleagues wanted to know whether a smart shirt could provide a more practical alternative for measuring lung function. If so, could the shirt offer a more accurate reading than the current traditional method?

Using a Smart Shirt to Monitor COPD

For the study, the researchers used a smart shirt called the Hexoskin, from a Canada-based company.

The smart shirt senses how the fabric stretches when the wearer’s chest expands and contracts and uses these movements to estimate the air volume. It also records heart motion.

The researchers then asked a group of 15 healthy participants to wear Hexoskin while performing their daily activities. These include sitting, standing, lying down, climbing the stairs, or vacuuming.

After collecting data from the smart shirt, the participants had to repeat the tasks to generate a second set of data.

This time, the volunteers had also to wear the traditional types of equipment for measuring breathing – a face mask and a bulky backpack – along with the smart shirt. Mannée and her colleagues then compared the result for both monitoring techniques for each of the participants.

In general, the researchers noted similarities between the two measurement methods.

When lying down, the two pieces of equipment only had an average of 0.2 percent difference, which is an equivalent of a few milliliters of air. However, the differences increased as the activities became more strenuous.

For example, during vacuuming, the two pieces of equipment had an average difference of 3.1 percent or about 40ml.

The participants said the smart shirt was comfortable and they could wear it underneath their clothes. But it was still far from perfect.

Calibrations from the first use of the Hexoskin did not seem reliable for the second measurement. That means users have to recalibrate the smart shirt every time they use it.

Mrs. Mannée explained:

“These results are important because they indicate that patients can wear the smart shirt while they go about their daily lives to accurately measure their lung function.”

The researchers intend to repeat the test. But this time, the volunteers would be COPD patients.

Beyond chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, technology can help patients with other respiratory conditions. These include cystic fibrosis, asthma, and after transplantation.

Read More: New Smart Skin Changes Color in Response to Heat and Sunlight

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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    Willie Jocob November 19 at 11:21 am GMT

    I was diagnosed of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2012 at the age of 63. I had been a heavy smoker, my symptoms started out with dry cough and shortness of breath, i ended up in the hospital, on a ventilator. I should have known it was coming, but like most smokers, thought it would never happen to me. My COPD got significantly worse and unbearable because of my difficulty catching breath. Last year, i started on a natural COPD Herbal therapy from Rich Herbal Gardens, i read a lot of positive reviews from patients who used the treatment and i immediately started on it. I had great relief with this herbal treatment. I breath very much better now, no case of shortness of breath or chest tightness since treatment. Visit Rich Herbal Gardens website ww w. richherbalgardens. com. This COPD treatment is a miracle, I feel better and breath better!!

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