Before heading towards wearable medical devices, you should know some basics about medical devices. Medical devices, as defined by WHO, is an instrument, apparatus, machine, implants, reagents used in in vitro technique, even software that is used for one or more specific medical purposes of diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment, replacement, control, support and numerous more. A wearable medical device is usually defined as non-invasive, independent which performs a specific function over some time and wearable means that the device is either supported by the human body or clothing. Wearable medical devices can be useful in the early detection and proper management of any medical condition in the user. The patients can constantly keep a check on various crucial body functions such as ECG (Electrocardiography), respiration, pulse, blood pressure, etc. In this pandemic, the device more prevalently used is oximeter for checking SpO2 levels in COVID-19 patients.
WEARABLE DEVICES AND TECHNOLOGY OVERVIEW
We live in an era of smart technologies, where smart devices are used in a wide range. Among these smart technologies, wearable devices stand out in innovation and creativity. These devices have an astounding effect. Wearable technology, commonly known as “wearables” are electronic devices that are physically worn by individuals to keep track, analyze, and transmit data collected. These smart IoT (Internet of things) keeps track of the biometric data from your heart rate to sleep cycle patterns. These are now becoming very popular among people of almost every age group. It accurately imparts crucial medical, biological and exercises data to a database. Now, wearables are used for studying dementia patients and even help in shaping the future of precision medicine. The wearable industry is quite beneficial for the growth of the healthcare industry.
Some wearable devices are mentioned below in a detailed manner:
1. WEARABLE ECG MONITORS:
The traditional ECG is used to record the electrical signals from the heart and enable us to check various heart conditions. A wearable ECG monitors system serves the same purpose along with other benefits, it is capable of long term monitoring as well as large scale storage. These are designed to provide continuous medicinal purpose data which fits your day-to-day life. It also provides data about attacks or strokes, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. ATP100 patch is a single-lead ECG monitoring device that is connected with smartphones via Bluetooth and it is attached with skin adjacent to the heart of the patients.
2. WEARABLE FITNESS TRACKERS AND SMARTWATCHES:
You might have heard of FitBit, these fitness trackers, wristbands and smart health watches were among the earliest wearable technology. These wristbands are equipped with sensors that keep close track of the user’s heart rate, tracking the number of steps you take, sleep cycle, calories burned and other physical activity. These bands are then synced with the user’s smartphone by some apps (usually via Bluetooth). Smart Health watches allow users to read notifications, make calls and obviously, data related to health. In 2018, Apple launched a new series of watches equipped with ECG approved by the FDA and supported by the American Heart Association, Apple Watch Series 4. This Apple Watch has the function of giving heads up to emergency services in case of fall or injury.
This new wearable device is the first that can keep track of the cardiovascular signals and simultaneously, various other biochemical levels in the body. Some engineers from the University of California San Diego have accomplished making a skin patch that is worn on the neck for tracking a user’s blood pressure, heart rate as well as their glucose, alcohol, lactic acid or caffeine levels in the user. A study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering says that Wearable sensors can generate data continuously without causing any discomfort to the user in their lifestyle, hence enhancing the self-monitoring conformity of the wearer which improves the quality of life.
RECENT ADVANCES AND FUTURE OF WEARABLES
Wearable medical devices are one of the booming industries and are on a high rise from the past decade with so many developments going on.
- According to the Market Analysis Report, the global market size for wearable medical devices was valued at USD 16.6 Billion in the year 2020.
- It is expected to expand at an even faster rate at a compound annual growth rate (CGAR) of 26.8% from the year 2021 to 2028.
The rise of industry such as remote patient monitoring devices and home healthcare is expected to influence growth in the market. The role of wearable medical devices in the healthcare trade has expanded due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The healthcare industry is also evaluating a wide variety of wearables that can be used in assessing COVID-19 like smart rings, patches, stamps and watches. These wearable medical devices are capable of checking a patient’s HR, body temperature, breathing and other vitals in home and hospital. A device to assess cough, which happens to be an early symptom of COVID-19, this device is a wireless wearable that attaches to a person’s throat (has the size of a postage stamp). This stamp can monitor coughing and patterns which are closely associated with movements of the chest wall, respiratory sounds, core body temperature and HR.
In the coming future, we can expect to see more creative and innovative devices developed as a result of pandemic and other factors. The ability of wearable medical devices to detect symptoms and any complications early as in case of C0VID-19 and other diseases, as well as monitoring patients closely. This will make wearable devices a favoured choice for the healthcare industry and consumers for the foreseeable future.
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