Life signs will be heard from the top of the world

Oct 03, 2006

In these days when information can travel across the world in a heartbeat, a pulse will travel across the world just as quickly.

A new tele-health device designed and developed at the University of Alberta will make sure that researchers in Edmonton can monitor climber Martin Lebeuf's every heartbeat as he climbs Mount Kilimanjaro. Lebeuf, an employee with the Canadian Space Agency, will be tackling the 4,600-metre mountain in November for an Arthritis Society fundraising. He's excited about the possibilities posed by the watch-sized contraption.

"I think if we could prove that this will work, it will open the door for many applications. I've been in Nunavut several times, and I see a lot of applications for that, for remote communities," said Lebeuf. "There might be some application for people with medical conditions who want to do some outdoor activities but are scared of being away from home. Also, I can foresee interesting implications in space. You never know."

The device, a wireless wearable physiological monitor (WWPM), can be used to track and transmit a patient's vital signs to his or her physician or other health-care provider over the Internet. Using leading-edge sensor technology it can provide information about the wearer's physical state, such as blood pressure and pulse. It will also alert health-care providers when intervention is needed or to prompt patients to take necessary actions (i.e. reminder to take medications).

Dr. Masako Miyazaki, principal investigator on the WWPM from the U of A Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, said developers are especially proud of the gadget's simplicity.

"Capital Health was very helpful is creating a system that is user-friendly, without too many wires, so elderly patients can use it and stay the rest of their lives in their own homes and communities," she said. "The fact that it's designed like a watch, means it's wearable. It's something even patients with dementia will not remove - anything that feels different, like a ring or necklace, they try to remove it."

Preliminary testing with patients has received positive feedback, said Miyazaki.

"Users are very happy that it's not intrusive, and they get peace of mind. We're very, very proud that, behind this simplistic device a lot of sophisticated technology has been embedded. This is just the beginning. This is going to continue to become smaller and sophisticated."

Development of the WWPM was a model of interdisciplinary work, said Miyazaki, with help from U of A computer sciences and electrical engineering experts, Capital Health and Japan's Sapporo Medical University.

Lebeuf will also carry with him a wireless station, which will collect data from the wristwatch monitor, and a satellite telephone, which will send the data back to Edmonton.

"This is the only tele-health device, to my knowledge, that allows a hospital to communicate with a patient in a remote location," he said. "I think it's absolutely incredible to have this kind of technology developed here in Canada."

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: Twitter increasingly used to share urological meeting info

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Designing exascale computers

Jul 23, 2014

"Imagine a heart surgeon operating to repair a blocked coronary artery. Someday soon, the surgeon might run a detailed computer simulation of blood flowing through the patient's arteries, showing how millions ...

MicroCHIPS develops contraceptive implant

Jul 07, 2014

Scientists are making drug development news with their investigations into ways that enable implantable devices to deliver drugs, cutting the wear and care of traditionally delivered pills and injections. ...

Medical advances turn science fiction into science fact

Jul 18, 2014

Exoskeletons helping the paralysed to walk, tiny maggot-inspired devices gnawing at brain tumours, machines working tirelessly as hospital helpers: in many respects, the future of medicine is already here.

Recommended for you

Exploring 3-D printing to make organs for transplants

Jul 30, 2014

Printing whole new organs for transplants sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but the real-life budding technology could one day make actual kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs for patients ...

High frequency of potential entrapment gaps in hospital beds

Jul 30, 2014

A survey of beds within a large teaching hospital in Ireland has shown than many of them did not comply with dimensional standards put in place to minimise the risk of entrapment. The report, published online in the journal ...

Key element of CPR missing from guidelines

Jul 29, 2014

Removing the head tilt/chin lift component of rescue breaths from the latest cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) guidelines could be a mistake, according to Queen's University professor Anthony Ho.

Burnout impacts transplant surgeons (w/ Video)

Jul 28, 2014

Despite saving thousands of lives yearly, nearly half of organ transplant surgeons report a low sense of personal accomplishment and 40% feel emotionally exhausted, according to a new national study on transplant surgeon ...

User comments : 0