Another digital device has been created that allows patients increased capabilities to monitor health.
Researchers at Rutgers University are now reporting on a smart wristband that can both sample the user’s blood and perform cell counts. Blood cell counts are often used diagnose illness: low red blood cell counts, for example, can indicate internal bleeding and other conditions.
According to a recent statement, the device has electronics that are placed onto a flexible circuit board. It uses a tiny needle to draw blood from the wrist; the blood then passes through a narrow channel fitted with gold electrodes that can count different types of cells that pass, in addition to other small objects.
“It’s like a Fitbit, but it has a biosensor that can count particles, so that includes blood cells, bacteria and organic or inorganic particles in the air,” said Mehdi Javanmard, senior author of the study.
As the device produces data, it can pass it onto the built-in Bluetooth module that shares the readings with a paired smartphone or other compatible device. This allows the cell counts to be immediately sent to healthcare providers, who can use them to manage disease, make therapy adjustments, and form new diagnoses.
The technology may not only improve monitoring for patients, but also reduce the demands placed on hospital labs that often perform multiple cell counts on a daily basis. In the field, offices, clinics, and hospitals, health professionals could potentially receive rapid blood test results from patients, without the need for expensive, cumbersome lab-based equipment.
“There’s a whole range of diseases where blood cell counts are very important,” Javanmard stated. “Abnormally high or low white blood cell counts are indicators of certain cancers like leukemia, for example.” This is likely only the beginning of a wave of similar applications. Next-generation wristbands could be utilized in a variety of biomedical and environmental applications, as patients could continuously monitor their health, and send results to physicians remotely.
“This would be really important for settings with lots of air pollutants, and people want to measure the amount of tiny particles or dust they’re exposed to day in and day out,” Javanmard said. “Miners, for example, could sample the environment they’re in.”