Wearables, sensors focus of UMass $1.2M nursing research grant

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A wearable eye-tracking tool for cancer survivors who need to monitor and manage persistent fatigue is one of several mobile health research projects targeting sleep in chronic illness funded by a $1.23 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research Center, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The grant will establish a new research hub, the UManage Center, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing. Researchers will develop wearables and handheld sensor devices for fatigue and sleep pattern monitoring, and the center will fund a total of 10 pilot studies over the next five years.

“We anticipate that the pilot grants will be focused on development and preliminary testing of wearable and handheld devices for managing symptoms of chronic conditions, and will lead to submission of proposals for large-scale projects that will lead to general usage,” Cynthia Jacelon, professor of nursing and center director, told FierceMobileHealthcare via email.

Mobile tools will play a vital role in advising patients to stop and rest, or adjust sleep hygiene, according to an announcement.

UManage is one of six new center grants awarded this year. The center’s research team includes sleep experts, as well as data scientists and engineers who will collaborate with industry partners.

“The creation of the UManage Center is an outstanding achievement for our nurse researchers" Dean Stephen Cavanagh of the College of Nursing, said in the announcement. "The center will create an environment where they can work and collaborate with other outstanding scholars working towards the common goal of improving health and the quality of life for those suffering from chronic illnesses."