Friday, 10 February 2012

Phones That Prevent Drug Relapses

Researchers developed a self-monitoring device to help drug users stay clean once they are out of rehabilitation, highlighting innovative ways mobile devices are improving general health. A team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School developed a prototype of a wrist-worn device called iHeal that detects physical signs of a possible return to risky behaviors, such as substance abuse.IHeal measures electrical activity in the skin, body motion, skin temperature and heart rate, all of which increase when a person feels stressed. The wrist device streams its findings to a smartphone, where an app monitors and processes them.
When stress indicators cross a certain line, the app asks the user to note the events that led up to the rising stress levels and to recognize possible drug cravings. IHeal aims to deliver personalized, multimedia interventions at the moment cravings occur, when relapse is most likely.
Self-monitoring devices like these could reduce the need for regular monitoring and checkups at health clinics, because they would constantly watch for signs of disease while the patient goes about normal, everyday activities.
Much of the population now carries smartphones, making them a natural choice for the next round of self-monitoring health tools and research. Researchers believe iHeal could also help manage chronic pain, overeating and post traumatic stress disorder, conditions often triggered by stress and upset.
Managing conditions like these is largely a solitary effort. People can seek support from counselors, visit treatment centers and participate in support groups, all proven ways to fend off relapse. However, stressors can come along at any time. Monitoring for them and developing coping strategies requires constant vigilance, leading to high relapse rates.
For these reasons, interventions for these types of conditions are often ineffective outside a clinic setting. IHeal can't take the place of qualified support or a physician's care, but it could provide a watchful eye and a timely reminder during times when someone with a history of substance abuse is wavering from the recovery path.
IHeal is similar to an app from Cornell researcher Tanzeem Choudhury, which measures people's movements and speech for signs of mental unrest and uses an app to try to fend off problems early on.
However, Choudhury's invention uses the smartphone's own hardware, rather than a separate sensor, to detect stress signals, so it only works when the smartphone is being carried on a person's body.
Related technology measures a person's heart rate to recognize early signs of cardiac trouble. A non-invasive, wireless heart monitor from Swiss researchers uses a remote sensor and an ECG apps to analyze heart rhythms, then transmits the information to doctors so they can scan for abnormal patterns.
IHeal researcher Edward Boyer recognizes people could avoid wearing iHeal if it looks too much like a monitoring device. Users are likely to wear future versions of the device on the ankle, or it could look like a wristwatch. Boyer and his team also plan to investigate data security concerns as they perform clinical trials on the product.


  1. WOW...gr8 going...!!

  2. Too good!!!!!

  3. it shows the growing influence of gadgets and the superb technology they use!