UTEP Professor Developing Low-Cost Alternative to Diagnose Sleep Apnea
October 09, 2013 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
Homer Nazeran, Ph.D., professor of electrical and computer engineering at The University of Texas at El Paso, is developing a low-cost, patient-friendly biomedical device in the form of a headband to help individuals monitor their sleep, and doctors diagnose sleep apnea.
Overnight polysomnography, or a sleep study, is the standard test sleep specialists use to diagnose the disorder. It requires patients to spend one or more nights at a sleep clinic with multiple sensors taped to the scalp, temples, chest and legs, and can range from $2,000 to $6,000 per test.
The goal of Nazeran's research is to provide an alternative to the overnight stay and costly test.
"In order to have an accurate diagnosis, doctors need to review a large number of the physiological signals that occur while a patient sleeps," said Nazeran, who is working with doctoral student Jose Ayala-Moyeda on the device. "We've been trying to minimize the number of sensors and make the procedure as simple and nonintrusive as possible, while preserving evidence-based integrity of the sleep data."
The plan is for patients to borrow the headband from sleep specialists and use the device comfortably within their own homes. Clinically acceptable sleep data will be recorded overnight, preprocessed and transmitted back to a clinic for review and scoring so that doctors can arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
In addition, the team will create a non-professional version of the device that allows users to sync the sensors with their smart mobile devices.
"We're using cutting-edge biomedical sensors, electronic communications and signal processing techniques to enable individuals to monitor their own sleep and gain an understanding of the quality and quantity of their night's rest," Nazeran said.
The professional prototype should be complete and ready for clinical trials by spring of 2014. Nazeran estimates that the device will reduce the cost of overnight polysomnography to one-tenth of its current cost. "This cost reduction and patient friendliness would make polysomnography accessible to a very large number of sufferers avoiding the procedure due to high cost, intrusiveness and discomfort," he said. Grants from the UT Transform program and the Anita Mochen Loya Innovation Fund are aiding the researchers in the initial development phases.