Published on June 26, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Researchers at the Universidad Poltécnica de Madrid (UPM) have developed an inexpensive system that offers the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation programmes for patients who currently cannot access them.
Patients who have suffered a heart attack will now be able to access cardiac rehabilitation programmes from home in a safe way by using the mobile phone and a sensorized shirt. The technology, developed within the framework of the European Project HeartCycle, allows doctors to have a better knowledge and to follow the health status of the patient as well as provide support during the period of rehabilitation. The features have been tested by real users and the system is currently in a clinical validation period in three hospitals.
When a myocardial infarction has not damaged much of the heart, the patient can have a good prognosis if they adopt healthy habits and control risk factors. Today, this process does not have support by the Spanish health system because of its costs and just the patients who have suffered from a serious infarct (only 5%) can go through a rehabilitation process. It is known that for 30% of those who do not go through the process, the prognosis of the cardiovascular condition will decrease in a few months and they will default to drug treatment.
The HeartCycle project of the Seventh Framework Programme aims to provide personalized tools for the remote care of patients who have suffered from an infarct and chronic patients affected by heart conditions. The technology, developed by the research group Life Supporting Technologies (LST-UPM), provides a better knowledge and monitoring of the health status of the patients and support during rehabilitation (watch video).
The heart condition can be overcome through a training plan by using the Guided Exercise system. After assessing the ability of each cardiac patient, doctors can create a personalized training plan that provides users with various types of both aerobic exercises and resistance exercises.
Users have a mobile telephone (remote station) that along with a sensorized shirt (sensor IMAGE) can be used to do guided and safe exercise in each phase of training, from the warm up to the cool down period.
During the exercise sessions, the system will contact the patients by audio, visual and by screen. The user has to follow instructions from the system while doing the exercise. It will instruct him to go faster, slower and even stop because the system has predicted a cardiovascular risk.
The system also includes a Tablet Pc (Patient Station) that the patient can use from home to receive information about his rehabilitation status and to check the results of the training sessions. The application provides a customized message that will support patients in different situations, for example if the patient is fulfilling the exercise plan defined by the doctor or if he is fatigued during an exercise.
Not only that, the application offers a personalized system of educational content using questions to assess the patient knowledge about various issues related to the cardiac diseases (definitions, causes, how to treat the disease, how to reduce the risk factors).
The system was designed and defined focusing on the end user. The development was carried out by a collaboration of German rehabilitation experts (Katholische Stiftung Marienhospital Aachen), English experts (Castle Hill Hospital in Hull, group Heart Manual of the Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh) and Spanish experts (Hospital clínico of Madrid). The system has been stringently tested and its functionality has been validated by real users in 3 shifts of usability testing.
Researchers started the clinical validation of the system in April 2012. Their aim is to compare the remote cardiac rehabilitation provided by the HeartCycle system with a classical rehabilitation process. The system is currently being tested by 150 patients in 3 hospitals; half of them will use the guided exercise system for 6 months and the other half will not use the system.
Source: Universidad Poltécnica de Madrid