Wearable sensor may help stroke, Parkinson’s patients with swallowing issues

Researchers Malandraki, Lee develop device that monitors patient’s progress therapy

A wearable sensor that monitors swallowing and transmits data to clinicians could help stroke, Parkinson’s and cerebral palsy patients at risk for complications, including pneumonia from aspiration of foods and liquids into the lungs.

Approximately 10 million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with swallowing problems caused by neurologic disorders each year. Untreated or ineffectively treated dysphagia can lead to devastating consequences, such as malnutrition, dehydration, pneumonia from aspiration of foods and liquids into the lungs, or death.

Throat sensor

The sensor, developed by researchers Georgia Malandraki, an associate professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, and Chi Hwan Lee, an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, wirelessly transmits performance data to clinicians, and allows them to monitor a patient’s progress and make needed adjustments in therapy.

The sensor could enable global telemedicine support for patients affected by swallowing disorders [https://sciencebusiness.technewslit.com/?p=37967]. Malandraki’s experience as a native of Greece, where resources in the area of dysphagia are limited, fueled her interest in exploring ways to improve access to care for as many patients as possible.

“Dysphagia interferes with a patient’s ability to eat, grow, and have a normal happy life. Imagine how devastating it would be if every single time you took a sip of your water or a bite of your food, you coughed/choked, spilled your food, or had very severe throat pain,” Malandraki says.

The first of several patents related to the wearable sensors has resulted in a prototype device known as the Tele-EaT sensors system. It is a non-invasive, wearable and affordable surface EMG sensor system specifically designed to record high-quality muscle activity signals from the challenging curvilinear head and neck area, Malandraki says.

The system, under the startup Curasis, will allow patients to wear a sticker-like patch that conforms to the skin, perform their swallowing exercises, and receive immediate critical feedback via an app — all from home.

“Our team combines Lee’s expertise in developing wearable sensors with my expertise in both swallowing neurophysiology and telehealth,” Malandraki says. “We are very excited about this collaborative endeavor that has the potential to change dysphagia practice and help millions of patients across the globe.”