Delft University of Technology is looking to give doctors an edge in monitoring premature babies. Up to half of the early borns suffer some level of brain damage due to low oxygen levels in the brain. To combat this, researchers at TU Delft, in collaboration with Northwestern University and the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, have developed a new wireless sensor to monitor those blood oxygen levels.
The sensor consists of four photodiodes, two of which can look deep inside the brain. The other two measure more superficially, providing data on the blood flow throughout the body. The sensor is flexible and conforms to the shape of the skull and wirelessly transmits data to an app, which signals when doctors or nurses need to intervene. After use, the device easily comes off the skin.
As collaborator move toward bulk production of the sensor, they’re touting the device as comfortable for babies, easy to use and extremely cost efficient – especially compared to existing alternatives. “Whereas hospitals are now paying around 10,000 euros for a large machine to monitor tissue oxygenation in the brain, our sensor costs around 25 euros,” says Alina Rwei, researcher at TU Delft. “This could ensure that more people have access to this kind of technology, particularly in developing countries, which will hopefully prevent many health-related problems.”