Smartphones and tablets can help people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) detect and avoid risky environments where air pollution and weather are likely to cause symptoms to flare, according to a study published this month in the International Journal of Computational Intelligence Studies.
The study report, entitled “Identifying risky environments for COPD patients using smartphones and internet of things objects” (International Journal of Computational Intelligence Studies, 2014; 3 (1): 1 DOI: 10.1504/IJCISTUDIES.2014.058642) is co-authored by Ioannis Kouris and Dimitris Koutsouris of the National Technical University of Athens, Greece.
In their paper, Drs. Kouris and Koutsouris provide an overview of the capabilities offered by smartphones as advanced computing devices for healthcare applications, focusing on the prevention of short-term complications of chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, using personalized decision making. Data provided by the embedded smartphone sensors, wearable wireless body area networks and “internet of things” objects are incorporated in a framework that evaluates and alerts the COPD patient to potentially risky environmental conditions in the proximal area. Data processing schemas are presented, distributing the execution of the calculations between the smartphone and a cloud-hosted service, achieving the ideal equilibrium between processing speed, system scalability and battery life of the mobile devices.
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As a disease indication, COPD typically involves a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis — both treatment-resistant conditions — and is most commonly associated with smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control, some 434,000 people die annually in the U.S. from smoking-related illness, and the American Lung Association estimates that more than 12.7 million adults in the US were afflicted with COPD in 2011. COPD was in the news recently after former “Marlboro Man” — Eric Lawson, 72, who had smoked from age 14, and was featured in Marlboro cigarette ads from 1978-1981, died of the disease on January 10.
However, COPD can also develop due to exposure to various irritant substances encountered in the course of one’s occupation or from air pollution of environments one inhabits. Whatever the primary cause, effective management of COPD will usually involve avoidance as much as possible of symptom-aggravating substances such as atmospheric dust and other air pollutant agents such like sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide from sources like vehicles, factories and power stations.
Applications combined with wearable or environmental sensors connected to the Internet can provide smartphone users with air quality information that might also be referenced to the user’s specific medical history. This information could help people with COPD make decisions like route planning or avoidance of areas where particular irritant triggers are present, and might also be used to provide alerts for asthma sufferers or in public health management and employee safety systems.
For example, the National Technical University of Athens research team is developing software that would monitor data from relevant sensors to a user’s particular condition, weather forecasts, and reference data and reports from other users on a network in order to optimize processing overheads and battery consumption .
Smartphones and tablets are increasingly used by both clinicians and individuals for an array of health care related tasks. AppCrawler lists a wide array of skin cancer related mobile device apps. For example, there’s a portable smartphone microscope that can detect viruses, and a smartphone device that can test for kidney damage. A $4.99 app. for Apple iOS devices called “Mole Detect” can help users detect early signs of potentially fatal melanoma, using body mapping to locate, identify and track moles on one’s body accurately.
Researchers from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have developed a portable device that conducts kidney tests and transmits the data through a smartphone attachment that can significantly reduce the need for frequent clinician visits for diabetes sufferers, and people with chronic kidney conditions.
Because COPD is a disease that is easily exacerbated by environmental conditions such as air quality, the difference between being able to navigate danger zones for COPD sufferers and stumbling unknowingly into a setting or situation that could aggravate symptoms comes down to a quality of life issue, where patients might be increasingly reluctant to go out of the home, travel, work, and socialize. However, with the use of a mobile device, COPD patients can now make informed choices about where they go in order to remain as comfortable in their environment as possible
International Journal of Computational Intelligence Studies
Medical News Today