In order to get tested for sleep apnea, patients typically have to spend a night sleeping at a clinic with numerous hard-wired sensors stuck to their skin. A new high-tech facial patch system however, could soon allow those people to spend the night in their own bed.
Obstructive sleep apnea can be a serious disorder, as it causes people to temporarily stop breathing. Additionally, by disrupting their sleep, it may exacerbate existing conditions such as heart disease.
Unfortunately, it often takes quite a long time for patients to get into a sleep clinic for testing. Even then, the unfamiliar surroundings and the restrictive electrical wiring may keep them from sleeping in their normal fashion – plus the test gathers physiological data over just one night.
Seeking a better alternative, an international team of scientists led by Georgia Tech’s Assoc. Prof. W. Hong Yeo developed a skin patch system that does the same job.
The setup consists of two thin silicone patches, one of which goes around the eyes and across the forehead, and the other of which goes on the chin. As the user sleeps at home – over multiple nights – electrodes in the patches detect their brain, eye and facial muscle activity.
That data is transmitted to an app on their smartphone, where it’s analyzed via AI-based algorithms. The app is thus able to determine the severity of the patient’s sleep apnea, so appropriate action can be taken.
In tests performed so far, the technology has detected and measured sleep apnea with an accuracy rate of 88.5% as compared to conventional clinical testing. And as an added bonus, because the system is so simple and easy to use, it could be utilized to see if some even has obstructive sleep apnea in the first place.
“A lot of people have this type of sleep disorder; they just don’t know it,” said Yeo. “In the US, more than 18 million people have this type of sleep apnea. That’s basically one out of every 15 Americans, and those numbers are increasing over time.”
Also contributing to the study were scientists from Emory University, the University of Texas at Austin, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the Korea Institute of Materials Science, and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. It is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Science Advances.
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology via EurekAlert