“Smart Shirt” Allows for Convenient Monitoring of Lung Function

As originally reported in Medical Xpress, the ’smart shirt’ is a comfortable shirt for daily life that also functions as wearable technology. The shirt is equipped with sensors that track the chest and abdomen’s movements in order to track lung functioning. It has recently undergone testing to determine its accuracy in comparison to the traditional and reliable equipment and it passed with success, proving its accuracy. This is good news for doctors who can give it to patients with lung related diseases to monitor their symptom progression remotely.

New Wearable Technology: Hexoskin

The shirt, Hexoskin, uses a special fabric which stretches as the user inhales and exhales, tracking how the fabric expands and contracts to figure out the volume of air that is entering and leaving the body. The tests were run on 15 people who wore the shirt while performing daily tasks. The individuals were simultaneously connected to traditional tracking equipment that measured the same movements as the volunteers walking, sat, stood up, climbed stairs, and so on. The results between the two devices can up with very comparable results. On average, the measurements only differed by 0.2% during the most simple activity of laying down, a difference that is not very significant. When the volunteers were engaged in more active activities such as climbing stairs, the results on average differed by 3.1%, which is a slightly more notable variation.

Trials For Patients With COPD

The next tests will be carried out on patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic inflammatory lung disease that restricts the affected patient’s airflow and breathing. Often patients experience coughing, wheezing, and mucus. It also can cause further health issues like heart disease or lung cancer. The disease is becoming more prevalent, affecting 64 million people in the world. However, it is treatable and the symptoms can be minimized. The symptoms include coughing and breathlessness, which often begin their onset during every day activities like walking up stairs or moving around the house. The patient struggles as the disease manifests, and monitoring their symptoms becomes more important.  

Added Convenience for Doctors and Patients

The shirts have already been available, but more traditionally were in use by athletes rather than for practical health concerns. They are very practical, allowing patients to wear the comfortable material without needing to think about it— a very different experience than the traditionally bulky materials that include a face mask and big backpack. These are burdensome and impede on normal life. The shirts add a layer of information that can help alert the patient and healthcare professionals to changes in symptoms and their vital signs more quickly. By spotting the symptoms sooner, they can treat them and prevent progression of symptoms to a more severe level. It will allow doctors to predict progression and the best treatment regime. Because the device spots changes from afar, the patients may be able to spend less time in hospitals for checkups— freeing up time, avoiding an extra trip, and not needing to be exposed to the germs of a hospital setting.
Of course, such accurate and easy technology comes at a cost, but it allows for a much more advanced and thorough way to monitor a patient without taking away from their daily lives.

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