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Wearable sensors save lives

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JUSTINE MURPHY, SENIOR EDITOR justine.murphy@photonics.com

With mass casualties, it can be easy for first responders to become overwhelmed amid chaos by the number of victims who need care. Quick action saves lives. Monitoring victims is vital and can make all the difference between lives saved and those lost.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Responder Technology Alliance have stepped up to help with a new (patent pending) suite of sensors. The sensors adhere to a patient’s sternum and securely transmit data via Wi-Fi to a mobile device or laptop in real time. The sensor can detect and monitor a victim’s vital signs, including blood pressure, heart and respiration rates, blood oxygen levels, and shock index. First responders can also view each patient’s location and medical status on an incident map. And if vital signs decline, the system can send an alert. The technology essentially helps EMTs, paramedics, and other first responders tend to more victims faster. And while novel, this latest wearable sensor is being joined by a lot of company.

As detailed in a piece by contributing editor Farooq Ahmed, similar wearable sensor technologies are hitting the market, allowing clinicians and even patients themselves to track and record basic health information. Optical wearable sensors have been developed to mimic temporary tattoos that can be applied on the skin or fingernails. Light-emitting plastics are being used to create sensors that conform to the body, enabling continuous health monitoring. Implantable biosensors are aiding continuous monitoring by joining forces with wearable optical readers, which could potentially take health care out of the clinic and into the home. Learn more.

Elsewhere in this month’s issue:

• Kunal Vyas, Ph.D., senior scientist at medical device company Lightpoint Medical, delves into the emergence of molecular imaging as an effective tool for cancer surgery (link).

• Photodynamic therapy is another emerging tool and powerful technique for the local, selective treatment of cancer and infectious diseases, as detailed by Cristina Kurachi, a professor at the University of São Paulo’s São Carlos Institute of Physics (link).

• Research in the life sciences is getting a boost via Raman spectroscopy, according to Amanda Amori and Michael Delay, both applications scientists at Semrock (a business unit of IDEX Health & Science), and Peter Brunt, vice president of sales at AVR Optics. As high-performance optical filters are being incorporated into cutting-edge detection systems, Raman spectroscopy is finding new applications in this sector, and evolving requirements for optical filters and other components are proving critical for best results. Learn more.

• In this month’s Biopinion column (link), Jennifer Swann, Ph.D. (a professor in biological sciences at Lehigh University who focuses on behavioral neuroscience) examines differences between men and women. It’s more than skin deep, she notes, as men and women differ significantly in many aspects of physiology and behavior. Using confocal imaging, Swann found that differences between the sexes play a significant role in cardiovascular disease, asthma, renal failure, cancer, and diabetes. Such findings hold profound implications for the treatment and prevention of disease.

Enjoy the issue!


BioPhotonics
Jan 2019
BiophotonicsEditorial

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