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Fibre optic sensor enables bespoke respiratory ventilation

Health & Wellbeing

A new sensor monitors fluctuating arterial oxygen levels and provides faster, more accurate alerts for doctors.

A team of researchers from the University of Oxford and King’s College London created a fibre optic sensor capable of monitoring blood oxygen levels with each breath taken by a patient. Proving that arterial oxygen levels are not constant, even in healthy individuals, the new sensor has potential to provide bespoke lung care, for people in emergencies as well as those coping with long-term, chronic conditions.

As test subjects received artificial respiration, their arterial oxygen levels increased with each breath in and decreased with each breath out. Doctors believe that sick patients experiencing significant changes in levels of oxygen will be able to receive ventilation tailored specifically to their condition, personal metabolic rate and lung volume. Further development of the technology could help healthcare teams differentiate between changes due to the physical act of breathing or internal processes, such as the actual distribution of oxygen.

Predicting health problems before they occur is a technology-enabled aspect of preventive care, and monitoring body functions is integral to that. From a smart bed that adjusts during use to maximize the quality of sleep to a flexible, wireless respiratory monitor embedded in a t-shirt, individuals are now taking more control than ever of their healthcare provision. How might communities use connected care monitors to increase the safety and overall health of the group?

Website: www.ox.ac.uk

Contact: twitter.com/uniofoxford

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