November 18, 2013

Sensing Systems May Become Common

With the progressively falling cost of miniaturized wearable gyroscopes, accelerometers, and other physiologic sensors, as well as inexpensive data transmission, sensing systems may become almost as common as cell phones for healthcare. Neurorehabilitation can develop these mobile health platforms for daily care and clinical trials to improve exercise and fitness, learning skills, and physical functioning.

Wearable, wireless motion sensor data, analyzed by activity pattern-recognition algorithms, can describe the type, quantity, and quality of mobility-related activities in the patient community. Data transmissions from the sensors to a cell phone or the Internet will enable continuous monitoring.

Having remote access to laboratory quality data about walking speed, duration and distance, gait asymmetry and smoothness of movements, as well as cycling, exercise, and skills practice, opens new opportunities to engage patients in progressive, personalized therapies with feedback about the performance. Also important will be clinical trial designs that will be able to include remote verification of the integrity of complex physical interventions and compliance with practice, as well as capture repeated, ecologically sound, ratio scale outcome measures.

Yes, the future looks bright for many applications of remote patient monitoring. If this works as well as envisioned, many applications may help reduce future medical costs because patients will benefit in immediate feedback on progress of rehabilitation. Instead of not having any measures about progress and using best guess analysis, as is the practice now, real time information will be available.

Yet, I can imagine many people balking at the new technology. Why would they balk? Some will say that they don't want to be spied on and feel that the new technology will used for that. Others just do not want to follow directions and will not work as diligently as they might be expected to be and with the new sensors, will not be able to lie like they do now. Others will know that they cannot play the sympathy card.

For an interesting idea being developed for Google Glasses and tracking diabetes information, read this blog by Mike Hoskins on Diabetesmine.

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