Imagine if respiratory rate, body temperature and cardiac health could all be monitored simply by wearing a t-shirt? Flinders PhD student Meseret Teferra (pictured, far left) is a step closer to achieving this dream.
Late last year, Mr Teferra was awarded $15,154 to purchase equipment to create a textile-based ECG monitor for home-based cardiac rehabilitation, and develop an ‘e-textile’ t-shirt to measure ECG.
E-textiles are fabrics that contain electronic elements or circuits woven directly into the material.
Cardiovascular disease is a major health problem in Australia, with approximately one in five adults (4.2 million people) suffering from the disease in 2014-15.
Mr Teferra’s project aims to create a personalised, wearable e-textile, in the form of a t-shirt, which will collect basic physiological measurements and monitor a patient’s cardiac rehabilitation from home.
Signals are delivered in real-time to a remote hospital-based workstation to determine the health status of the person wearing the t-shirt and monitor their rehabilitation progress.
Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor Karen Reynolds is one of three supervisors for the PhD project and says the funding is critical to this innovative research.
“E-textile technology is a rapidly growing field of research and provides a novel way to monitor a patient’s day-to-day cardiac health in their own environment, without the need for them to wear other add-on devices,” she says.
“Using this technology, we hope to reduce the time for hospital stays and increase accessibility of cardiac rehabilitation services – especially for the elderly and those who live remotely from service centres”.
Funding for the project has been made possible thanks to support from the Tom Simpson Trust Fund, administered through the National Heart Foundation of Australia (SA).
Flinders welcomes e-textile expert
As part of Flinders’ expansion into e-textile technology research, the University is also thrilled to welcome Visiting Endeavour Research Fellow Amanda Fleury, a specialist in this growing area.
Dr Fleury recently completed her PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto, Canada, investigating the use of electronic textiles in rehabilitation.
Over the next four months, Dr Fleury will work with Professor Reynolds and other researchers in the Medical Device Research Institute to investigate new wearable sensing technologies for the treatment of sleep apnoea and the kinematic analysis of gait.