Researchers to develop wireless sensors to measure blood loss

Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Massachusetts Medical School this fall will start a three-year, $1.9 million project paid for by the U.S. Army to begin development of small wireless sensors that, among other things, will be able to detect blood loss in patients. According to WPI, the sensors initially will be used by soldiers.

Similar sensors also will be developed for smartphones, according to a WPI announcement; Army medics will use the technology as a diagnostic tool. The monitoring systems will use light frequency technology--akin to what is used in pulse oximeters--in order to measure patient vital signs.

In Year 2 of the project, much of the technologies developed will be deployed to the UMass Memorial Medical Center. There, trauma patients will be monitored using the tools in the emergency department, and first responders also will be able to take advantage of the technology.

"The majority of trauma victims we see have blunt-force injury, with no visible signs of bleeding," Chad Darling, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at UMass Memorial Medical Center, said, according to the announcement. "So we are always concerned about internal bleeding, and typically order a CT scan to see what's happening inside. An early-detection system for internal bleeding would be helpful, and certainly would be very important for first responders in the field."

In June, we told you about a similar effort from Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup Gauss Surgical. The company is developing an iPad app geared toward surgeons to monitor and track blood loss during operations. Surgical staff will be able to use the iPad to scan gauze and other surfaces that absorb blood; the app will use an algorithm to estimate the total amount of blood on those surfaces.

Meanwhile, last fall, we told you about how researchers are creating smell-sensing nanotechnology for smartphones. Currently, such technology can be used to test for food freshness or as an informal breathalyzer. Reviewers at iMedicalApps, though, also saw potential to smell infections or certain diseases.

Sensor technology also is being looked at for efforts like fall prevention, and for measuring vitals like blood pressure.

For more information:
- here's the WPI announcement