According to a study published in 2003 by the NFO World Group, around 15 million people in Germany suffer from chronic pain. An interdisciplinary team of physicians, engineers and software developers wants to support their medical treatment. The partners include the Chair of Medical Information Technology at RWTH Aachen University and CiS Forschungsinstitut für Mikrosensorik und Photovoltaik GmbH Erfurt as technical research institutes, the University Hospital Aachen and the Pain Center Berlin as medical experts, as well as Binder Elektronik GmbH Sinsheim, G.punkt medical services Magdeburg and TSI-Telematic Solutions International GmbH Berlin.
The focus is on the development of a mobile biofeedback system that records vital parameters of the patient measured in the external auditory canal, analyzes them with the help of a smartphone app and evaluates them individually. “Patients should be enabled to carry out their therapeutic training outside the clinic, at any time and in any place,” says Andreas Albrecht, project manager at the CiS Research Institute.
The patient’s physiological condition is monitored throughout the training program. In this way, a control loop is created in which the patient is guided, but in particular sensitized, and thus actively controls the therapy.
An essential component of the solution is a miniaturized reflection sensor developed for photoplethysmography by the CiS Research Institute. This sensor determines the optical density of the rhythmically perfused tissue. This allows conclusions to be drawn about local blood flow and systems regulating blood flow. These include above all cardiac activity, respiration and thermoregulation, which in turn are under the influence of the autonomic nervous system.
At the international trade fair SENSOR + TEST 2014 (Nuremberg, 03.-05.06.2014) the CiS Research Institute will show a first prototype of the biofeedback system in hall 12, booth 12-226.
The work is supported by the BMWI as part of the cooperative project “BIOFEEDBACK – Development of an ear biofeedback system for the monitoring and treatment of vegetative dysfunctions” within the funding measure “Central Innovation Program for SMEs” under the funding code VP2020410KJ2.