Prototype Chest Monitor Built from Video Game System Could Detect Respiratory Disease


Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect system may be able to be used to assess chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other pulmonary diseases.

Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect system may be able to be used to assess chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other pulmonary diseases, according to findings published in the journal Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing.

Researchers from the University of Warwick used four Microsoft Xbox Kinect sensors to develop a low-cost chest wall motion assessment system. The investigators developed a prototype to create a three dimensional, time varying representation of a patient’s torso, which would enable physicians to measure and assess how the patient’s chest wall moves.

The researchers found their breathing mannequin used to test the prototype demonstrated similar accuracy to spirometer tests, the current standard test for COPD diagnosis. The researchers said that chest movement models can also help diagnose respiratory diseases.

Later, the prototype was tested on healthy volunteers and adults with cystic fibrosis. The Xbox’s infrared beam allowed the researchers to measure changes on the patients’ chest walls.

“We have developed a low cost prototype which provides a more comprehensive measurement of a patient's breathing then existing methods,” project leader Dr. Chris Golby said in a press release.

Part of the problem with the current tests, the statement detailed, is that there is a limitation preventing physicians from detailing the function of each lung. This can cause readings that are inaccurate. Plus, patients with facial abnormalities or muscle weakness may not be able to participate in the tests properly.

“For patients who report to A&E a quick and low cost method of chest wall motion assessment is required,” added Golby. “There are some conditions that doctors can’t detect or assess using spirometry such as collapsed lung segments or respiratory muscle weakness. However our prototype allows physicians to make accurate assessments. It is also potentially very useful in assessing changes in respiratory physiology that occur during exercise. This is in contrast with existing systems which rely on data from one viewpoint.”

This calls to mind research previously reported by MD Magazine from The Ohio State University. Researchers there used the Xbox Kinect to allow patients to virtually propel and guide a kayak and manipulate their surroundings in a game. Questions were also asked to the patients in order to track their progress. That system was originally developed for stroke patients, but used effectively by multiple sclerosis patients.

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