PNEUMACRIT: Preterm Neonate / neonatal Embedded Universal Microelectronic wearable Acquisition For Cardio Respiratory Intensive Therapy

Lead Research Organisation: Middlesex University
Department Name: Faculty of Science & Technology

Abstract

PNEUMACRIT will provide a revolutionary multi sensor wearable imaging system that will inform lung function diagnosis for infants and children with conditions that can lead to respiratory problems. Although respiratory support, especially mechanical ventilation, can improve their survival, it may also cause severe injury to the vulnerable lungs, resulting in chronic pulmonary morbidity lasting into adulthood. PNEUMACRIT has the potential to provide early detection of respiratory failure in infants, by providing a low-cost monitoring system, which will also facilitate optimisation of the respiratory support. This will provide both immediate benefits and decrease the risk of patients developing long-term respiratory disorders. PNEUMACRIT pursues breakthroughs in analytical measurement, microsystems embedded in flexible printable wearable materials, signal processing, and organic devices, to produce multi-parameter clinical measurements obtained from the data produced from electrical impedance tomography (EIT), Electrocardiogram (ECG) and apnoea monitoring. EIT is a non-radiative, inexpensive technique that uses small electrical currents to produce cross sectional images of the body that can facilitate real time dynamic monitoring of lung aeration, and recent studies have shown that it is effective in monitoring aeration in preterm babies in a clinical setting. However, to maximise its diagnostics potential, this EIT information need to be combined with other non-invasive measures. Advances in electrode technologies within the project will enable multi-site recordings, without the need for physical interconnection and integrated power supplies, opening the door to a new generation of diagnostic wearables. Such monitoring is crucial because each year millions of babies across the world suffer from respiratory failure due to immaturity of the lung or infectious diseases. In addition, standard lung function tests are not suitable for use with babies and young children until they are old enough to actively co-operate with instructions (~age 7 years). Therefore, PNEMACRIT could, in future, provide valuable lung function information to this age group as well.

Planned Impact

At present there is no multi-sensor imaging modality suitable for continuous non-assisted monitoring of infants' lung physiology. The overall benefit of healthcare interventions in respiratory function in infants and children is currently limited by assumptions that respiratory support results in homogeneous aeration and ventilation of the lung. However, this is often not the case, resulting in inappropriate interventions with acute and lifelong impacts on health and wellbeing as the damage persists into adulthood.
This project will significantly decrease respiratory related treatment damages in infants and children and establish more effective treatment schemes through the use of a new medical device based on electrical impedance tomography (EIT), combined with ECG and apnoea in the form of a wearable system . It will provide real time information regarding the patient's condition by defining the nature, inhomogeneity and severity of persisting lung disorders We believe this will significantly advance early detection and monitoring of lung problems in the neonatal and paediatric patient population worldwide. It will thus have immense impact across a wide range of stakeholders as detailed Below.

Excellent research: This technology will provide new approaches to creating wearables for the care and intervention of infants and children.
Impacts on the economy: Clearly any advance in the diagnosis and therapeutic intervention of infants and children will have significant impact in terms of national savings. Further, large-scale advancement of the technology would make it affordable in the developing world and will be of interest to W.H.O. The proposed research will lead to a new product or a range of products the manufacture of which will create new jobs (and possibly new companies), ultimately leading to wealth creation and reinforcing the UK's position as a leading country in healthcare technologies.
Impacts on the public sector / policy: Enabling early access interventions for respiratory related treatment will improve patient safety and treatment quality for the most vulnerable neonatal and paediatric patient population. Timely diagnosis will allow clinicians to intervene at an early stage and reduce mortality. This project will impact on service delivery policy helping to ensure availability of seamless access to integrated packages of interventions through an optimal mixture of health centre and hospital-based care.

Environmental / social advances: Due to the timeliness and health impact of the project, we will seek to attract national media updates and interviews for further dissemination of the work to the wider public.

Skilled people / leadership: The project will produce researchers with the multidisciplinary skills and expertise to tackle challenges within healthcare. The project will produce researchers with the multidisciplinary skills and expertise to tackle challenges within healthcare. The combination of materials, electronics, design, modelling, data capture and analysis are an attractive skill set applicable across a wide range of industries, including engineering and clinical sciences, and our staff will be well positioned to make major contributions in these areas. Those with a background in engineering will gain good appreciation of the possibilities of EIT, while those with a background of related fields, will gain a good appreciation of the solutions that engineering can provide and the associated practicalities.

Publications

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