Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed an efficient algorithm that can interpret the wheezing of patients with breathing difficulties to provide healthcare professionals with an idea of what’s happening in the lungs. The research is part of a larger, ongoing project to develop wearable smart medical sensors for monitoring, collecting, and interpreting personal health data, according to North Carolina (NC) State University. Wheezing sounds can vary depending on where the problem is in the lungs and the severity of the problem.

As such, researcher Hamid Krim explains that the algorithm accounts for these differences to tell doctors exactly what is going on. Krim states, “The algorithm is effective regardless of the physical size of the patient and is able to handle the variability and complexity associated with breathing patterns.”

Overall, the system’s sensors monitor breathing transmit information to a smart device, such as a smartphone, the data is then run through the algorithm. The NC State news report indicates that if the algorithm finds a breathing problem, the smart device notifies the patient and his or her medical provider. Due to the low computational cost of the algorithm, the long-term goal is for it to be implemented on the sensor device itself.

“Researchers at ASSIST have developed wearable sensors that are powered by a patient’s body heat and can monitor the sound of a patient’s breathing. Now we’ve developed an algorithm that can assess the onset time, pitch and magnitude (or volume) of wheezing sounds to give healthcare professionals information about the condition of the lungs,” Krim says. “This information, in turn, can be used to help doctors make more informed decisions about diagnosis and treatment.”

As the algorithm was developed to work in concert with wearable technology, the NC State news report notes that the goal is for it to ultimately be used to continuously assess the sound of a patient’s breathing over time, which would make it possible for doctors to monitor breathing under real-world, daily conditions.

The work was done by Saba Emrani and Krim, researchers in the National Science Foundation Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies, or ASSIST Center, based at NC State.

Source: North Carolina State University