A “smart” T-shirt that accurately monitors breathing and lung function by sensing chest and abdominal movements was presented by Dutch researchers at an international conference of the European Pulmonary Society in Madrid.
The innovative T-shirt called “Hexoskin“ which sends data online in a mobile app, can be utilized in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), allowing doctors to remotely monitor for signs that the condition is worsening.
Researchers at the University of Radboud Medical Center, led by Denise Manet, said COPD is a growing problem with about 64 million people worldwide. Patients are monitored with special equipment in the clinic (rolling mat, mask, computer), but this is not possible on a daily basis. This need is met by the “smart” T-shirt that records any symptoms of deterioration (shortness of breath, cough), when eg. the patient goes up stairs or does homework.
The T-shirt records when the fabric is stretched (eg, in the case of coughing), estimates the volume of inhaled and exhaled air, and measures the heart rate. It is comfortable and can be worn under normal clothing or not.
The same technology could in the future be utilized in other lung diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis or after lung transplantation.
“Our goal is to improve the quality of life of patients. If we can accurately monitor their symptoms as they do their daily activities, we will be able to detect problems early and heal them faster, which in turn will mean less hospital stay.”
The use of such “smart” clothes, in conjunction with artificial intelligence algorithms, is expected to help the pulmonologists in the future.