Wireless networks could be configured to function as noninvasive monitoring technology

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Engineers and researchers from the University of Utah are developing new ways of using wireless technology to monitor patients who suffer from sleep apnea, irregular breathing patterns following surgical procedures, and children at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Neal Patwari, lead engineer on the project, said the devices can be used to detect changes in the rhythm of a patient’s breathing without necessitating the physical connection of wires, tubes or other invasive elements. Such applications of the technology could be used to monitor the breathing of patients who have recently undergone surgical procedures to minimize physical discomfort and further potential medical complications arising from more intrusive monitoring techniques.

“We can use this to increase the safety of people who are under sedation after surgery by knowing if they stop breathing,” said Patwari in a statement. “We also envision a product that parents put around their baby’s crib to alert them if the baby stops breathing. It might be useful for babies at risk of SIDS.”

Healthcare IT News reports that the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that the technology could assist in the rapid identification of apnea, respiratory failure and esophageal obstruction, as well as interruptions to external oxygen supplies.

Although researchers at the university estimate that it will be about five years before such a product is available to medical professionals, the costs associated with implementing such a system could be substantially less than other monitoring solutions due to the fact that the wireless devices are off-the-shelf products.

Patwari plans to develop the technology in order to seek federal approval to market a more sophisticated version on the wider healthcare IT device market.