Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a virus that causes respiratory tract infections especially in young children. This infection increases the airway resistance and makes it harder to breathe because more pressure has to be generated in the lungs to the extent that the respiratory muscles may get so tired that the patient stops breathing. In the U.S., by the end of 2-3 years of age, nearly all of the children are going to be infected with RSV at least once. Among them, 2-3% will develop bronchiolitis and need to be hospitalized. For this disease, similar to the most of the medical complications, the best strategy is prevention. RSV is a virus, thus a vaccine would be the best answer. Unfortunately, at present no RSV vaccine exists. The last attempt was a trial in the 1960s that failed! On the other hand, some symptoms (e.g. temporary difficulty in breathing especially in infants) can easily be mistaken with RSV infection and cause a lot of unnecessary visits to the hospitals/emergency rooms (very high false positive rate).
In this research, we aim to quantify airway resistance through a simple, non-invasive measurement of the chest volume changes over time that can act as a surrogate measure of chest pressure and volumetric airflow. Our approach uses signal and image processing techniques to infer airway resistance using a commercially available infrared depth-sensor, Microsoft Kinect. We envision in the case of commercialization, at a similar price to baby monitors, this technology would have the potential to greatly improve the management of the infant obstructive pulmonary diseases and reduce unnecessary hospital visits.
In Georgia Tech Bionics lab (GT-Bionics) we design and develop state-of-the-art medical and scientific instruments for a wide variety of clinical and research applications. More specifically, our focus is on Assistive Technologies, Rehabilitation Engineering, Wearable Devices for Smart Health and Wellbeing, Implantable Microelectronic Devices, and Wireless Neural Interfacing. We are involved in true multidisciplinary research addressing all aspects of complex biomedical systems from hardware, software, and smart algorithm design to evaluation of their full functionality and efficacy on animal subjects or in clinical settings.