Researchers at the University of Missouri have been testing the usefulness of contact-free sensors for evaluating the health of elderly people living in a retirement community. The investigators built ballistocardiography bed sensors made out of flexible tubes of water that detect movement as well as breathing and respiration rates. They also installed hidden radar transmitters that help measure the rate of walking of the individuals under observation. The two technologies were tested separately and compared against clinicians’ typical evaluation of the patients’ health. The two modalities have shown to be useful in estimating how well the patients are doing, including the chances that a detrimental fall may happen.
“Heart disease is a major cause of death for both men and women,” said Marjorie Skubic, a professor at University of Missouri’s College of Engineering. “Having a sensor continuously monitoring heart rate provides a significant benefit for older adults. The bed sensors also allow us to collect data on sleeping patterns– when people are in bed, how often they are in bed, and how long they are in bed. Similar to walking speed, sleep patterns can detect early signs of illness.”
The researchers, whose findings will be published inJournal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments, plan on testing whether a decline in other health parameters can be detected using such contact-free sensors.
Source: U. Missouri