Last year we wrote an article about a wireless pacemaker developed by a team from Northwestern University. The innovative device is made of materials that can undergo chemical reactions to dissolve in the body once it isn’t needed anymore, reducing the risk and damage that complicated open-heart surgeries pose on removal.
A newer, smarter version
The team has now developed their invention further, unveiling a smart version that can communicate with a coordinated network of soft, flexible, wireless, wearable sensors and controls, placed on the upper body. These smart sensors communicate to constantly report various physiological functions in the body, including the heart’s electrical activity, oxygen levels, body temperature, respiration, muscle tone, and physical activity.
This combined activity is then processed by an algorithm automatically to detect abnormalities in the cardiac rhythm. From this, the pacemaker can adjust its settings to decide what the pace of the user’s heart rate is for healthy functioning. All of this information can also be streamed to a smartphone or tablet, helping doctors in assessing the health of their patients to improve outcomes.
“This approach could change the way patients receive care providing multimodal, closed-loop control over essential physiological processes — through a wireless network of sensors and stimulators that operates in a manner inspired by the complex, biological feedback loops that control behaviors in living organisms,” says John A. Rogers, lead researcher of the project.
He continues: “For temporary cardiac pacing, the system untethered patients from monitoring and stimulation apparatuses that keep them confined to a hospital setting. Instead, patients could recover in the comfort of their own homes while maintaining the peace of mind that comes with being remotely monitored by their physicians. This also would reduce the cost of healthcare and free up hospital beds for other patients.”