The sounds the body makes can provide important information about our health.
This is why doctors often rely on the sounds of heartbeat, breathing and digestion to receive information about what is happening in a patient’s body.
To make these assessments as frequent and effective as possible, Northwestern University researchers developed flexible, miniaturized wearable devices. Attached to the skin, wearable devices can continuously track sounds at multiple locations on the body simultaneously.
In pilot studies, the devices were tested on premature babies with respiratory and intestinal motility disorders, as well as adults, including people with chronic lung diseases. The devices operated with clinical-grade accuracy and offered new features that could improve the detail and efficiency of health checks.
“Currently, there is no method to continuously monitor and spatially map body sounds in the home or hospital setting,” said John A. Rogers, a bioelectronics pioneer who led the development of the device, in a press release. “Doctors must place a conventional or digital stethoscope on different parts of the chest and back to listen to the lungs point by point. In close collaboration with our clinical teams, we set out to develop a new strategy for monitoring patients in real time, continuously and without the constraints associated with rigid, wired and bulky technology.