Smart Textiles in Neonatal Monitoring: Enabling Unobtrusive Monitoring at the NICU

Smart Textiles in Neonatal Monitoring: Enabling Unobtrusive Monitoring at the NICU

Fernando Seoane (University of Borås and Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden), Sibrecht Bouwstra (Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands), Juan Carlos Marquez (University of Borås and Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden), Johan Löfhede (University of Borås, Sweden) and Kaj Lindecrantz (Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0975-4.ch003


Prematurely born and critically ill babies admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit require round-the-clock monitoring of vital signs and in special cases additional parameters such as brain functioning monitoring. Although close monitoring is fundamental for a good developmental outcome, the monitor systems are obtrusive, causing stress for the baby and hampering parent-child contact. New developments in textile and electronics offer opportunity in greatly improving the comfort and appearance of the monitoring systems for ECG as well as EEG monitoring by replacing the adhesive electrodes with textile electrodes. The authors present the designs of a neonatal jacket containing textile electrodes for ECG monitoring and textile electrodes intended to be integrated in a cap for brain functioning monitoring. The initial results presented show good prospect for further development. Accuracy and reliability are challenges specific for the medical application of smart textiles such as in neonatal monitoring. Furthermore, the mass-production of smart textiles requires improvement before smart garments can be introduced to the practice of neonatal care.
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Clinical Relevancy

The premature neonates with an immature central nervous system have to develop in an extra uterine environment. The incubator at the NICU environment is full of sources of discomfort and intrusion that interfere with the normal growth and development of neonates (Als et al., 2003; STELLA Newsletter, 2010). One of the major causes of discomfort in the incubator is the monitoring systems. Examples of discomfort are: pain at removal of the adhesive electrodes, false alarms at accidental disconnection and restriction in movement. Since close monitoring is fundamental for early detection of medical problems (e.g., apnea, arrhythmias and hypoxemia) and potential complications (e.g., convulsions) but at the same time cause discomfort, the intrusiveness of the current neonatal monitoring systems must be reduced, while maintaining the signal quality and reliability.

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