About the Project
Why is continuous lung monitoring an issue?
Lung related diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia and asthma are considered the main causes of death in EU. The current management of such diseases only allows a momentary patient assessment at the time point out-clinic visit or hospitalization. Short-term trends in disease development, either deterioration or improvement, are not accessible. Continuous and real-time monitoring, especially in remote settings (e.g patients’ homes) is not available. Additionally the devices used for monitoring the patients are massive, expensive, uncomfortable and difficult to operate, thus requiring specialized personnel. Several of them also rely on patients’ cooperation and compliance to guarantee proper examination results. The incorporation of novel electronics in garments presents great potential for addressing these challenges.
WELMO at a glance
The 42-month project WELMO aims at developing and validating a new generation of low-cost and low-power miniaturized sensors, integrated in a comfortable vest, enabling the effective and accurate monitoring of the lungs, through the simultaneous collection of sound and electrical impedance tomography (EIT) signals with the same sensors that can be combined, processed and linked with specific clinical outcomes making the systematic, accurate and real-time evaluation of respiratory conditions possible.
The diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of lung diseases depend on the availability of a variety of medical products.
These include devices such as stethoscopes, blood gas analysis systems, spirometers, MRIs and functional imaging methods (EIT) that are discontinuously used both in the diagnosis and monitoring of the lung disease progression and treatment.
The common drawbacks of all the stated examination methods are that they are not portable and only allow a momentary patient assessment at the time point of out-clinic visit or hospitalization.
WELMO aims to answer three key questions:
How can lung status and function be continuously and accurately monitored in a wearable setting?
How can COPD be cost-effectively assessed and treated to improve patients’ life quality?
How can visual and sound signals be combined to extract features so as to support health care professionals?
WELMO’s main goal is to develop, test, validate and commercialise a fully integrated proactive and personalised technology solution, providing 360° data from clinician, patient and external inputs. The technology solution combines a smart vest including sensors which measure and monitor specific COPD patient indicators. Combined with other personalised patient and environmental information, real-time data can be automatically uploaded to highly secure cloud-based patient medical records. From this hub, patients, clinicians and community health professionals can better monitor and manage integrated personalised care plans.
The development of corresponding software
and data including signal processing algorithms. These will enable users to interpret the raw data collected and will lead to better understanding of lung’s conditions, supporting them in their tasks and decision making process.
The participation of users
from very early in the project.End users will be involved during the whole duration of the project, incorporating their feedback into the system’s development. Gender balanced participation will be achieved, during the execution of clinical validation studies. The vest will be produced for different body types and for both genders.
The developmentof a high-usable,
easy-to-wear, machine-washable wearable, enabling the efficient and accurate real-time and continuous monitoring of the lung.
The organization of two prospective 6-month validation studies
are foreseen, with the participation of at least 25 subjects each, where the main technological features and the WELMO solution as-a-whole is going to be evaluated.