With grant money from various sources, researchers from human sciences, engineering and health sciences are working on a garment that keeps the patient’s comfort in mind. The sensors in the clothing relay information from anywhere—even from home.
In the case of sleep apnea that’s very important, according to Dr. Mary Ruppert-Stroescu with the department of design, housing and merchandising, who is helping design the Smart Garment.
“Research has found that up to 50 percent of patients never show up to their sleep test. It isn’t easy for parents to leave their kids or families for a night to be tested,” said Ruppert-Stoescu. “Also, sleep apnea testing can be uncomfortable for patients because of the unfamiliar sleeping arrangements.”
Once gathered, the data from the garment is transferred to a computer to develop a health assessment that physicians can use to help diagnose sleep apnea and screen for warning signs of heart disease.
“With this technology, patients could be treated for health problems they don’t even know they have yet,” said Dr. Satish Bukkapatnam, principal investigator for the project from the School of Industrial Engineering and Management. “This could be a huge step in medical research and predicting health problems.”
“The idea that our work can promote efforts aimed at predicting the development of risk factors in patients with sleep disorders, as well as cardiovascular diseases, strongly motivates my passions for the project,” said Trung Le, doctoral student from the department of industrial engineering and a research associate for Bukkapatnam.
Graduate student Woranat Wongdhamma, an engineering research associate, is also working alongside Bukkapatnam to develop the hardware and integrate it into the garment. “My favorite part of working on this project is that I have an opportunity to be able to take what we have in the research room and make it real, “ he said.
Dr. Bruce Benjamin with the OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa has been part of the team from the start and first proposed the use of EKG (heart monitoring) software and data collection be extended to monitor health disorders. “Bringing all of this together is so big that no one individual, no one discipline can actually solve the problem, so it becomes a collaborative effort,” said Benjamin.
Another collaborator in the research is Benjamin’s colleague in Tulsa, Dr. Brek Wilkins, who says the project has allowed those involved to accomplish what almost every scientist seeks. “We’re applying technology in a way that makes it usable by virtually everyone.”
Oklahoma State University