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Research Papers

Ubiquitous Health Monitoring System for Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea With Zigbee Network and Wireless LAN

[+] Author and Article Information
Sechang Oh, Hyeokjun Kwon

Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701

Vijay K. Varadan

Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701; Department of Neurosurgery, College of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey Medical Center, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033

J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med 2(2), 021008 (May 16, 2011) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4003927 History: Received March 28, 2011; Revised April 01, 2011; Published May 16, 2011; Online May 16, 2011

The Greek word “apnea” literally means “without breath.” The three types of apnea are obstructive, central, and mixed. Obstructive is the most common type. Despite the difference in the root cause of the three types of apnea, people with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for 1 min or longer. Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, and headaches. Sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle accidents. Apart from the physical health risks, sleep apnea can lead to social problems when left undiagnosed or untreated such as a high amount of unnecessary health care cost. Sleep disorder is diagnosed with polysomnography, an overnight sleep study, by monitoring electrical activity of brain, heart, eye movement, muscle activity, breathing pattern, and other physiological signals. Because polysomnography requires overnight monitoring by a sleep technologist with full sleep staging, polysomnography is expensive, inconvenient, time consuming, and labor intensive. Although some systems provide home based diagnosis, most systems record the sleep data in a memory card. The patient must send the memory card to a medical center through the mail or internet. The real-time monitoring is not performed and a patient can experience life threatening episodes by not receiving proper feedback from a medical center or a physician. We propose a wireless health monitoring system to diagnose sleep apnea, which enables the global monitoring of biomedical signals. A patient does not need hospitalization and can be diagnosed and receive feedback at home. The system supports monitoring five different biomedical signals to diagnose sleep apnea: electrocardiogram with dry electrodes (no gel), body position, nasal airflow, abdomen/chest efforts and oxygen saturation. The system consists of three units: a wireless transmitter, a wireless receiver, and a monitoring unit. A wireless transmitter unit sends the measured signals from sensors to a receiver unit with Zigbee communication. The receiver unit, which has two wireless modules, Zigbee and Wi-Fi, receives signals from the transmitter unit and retransmits signals to the remote monitoring system with Zigbee and Wi-Fi communication, respectively. By using both the Zigbee network and wireless LAN, the system can achieve low power consumption in a local monitoring area with the feature of the Zigbee standard. The system also provides wide data coverage and easily extends its sensor network to the Internet with the Wi-Fi standard. The features of the system and the results of the continuous monitoring of vital signals are presented.

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Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

Data flow of the wireless health monitoring system network

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Figure 2

Sensors to diagnose sleep apnea: (a) Ag/AgCl skin electrodes for ECG, (b) vertically aligned gold nanowire electrodes for ECG (14), (c) gyroscope for body position, (d) pressure sensor for nasal airflow, (e) piezoelectric sensor for chest effort, and (f) oximeter sensor for oxygen saturation

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Figure 3

Block diagram of a three-stage amplifier module.

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Figure 4

(a) Block diagram and (b) image of the wireless transmitter unit

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Figure 5

(a) Block diagram and (b) image of the wireless receiver unit

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Figure 6

Experimental test setup for the wireless remote monitoring system for sleep apnea

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Figure 7

(a) GUI of the monitoring utility program and (b) real-time display window

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Figure 8

Monitored signals: (a) ECG, (b) body position, (c) nasal airflow, (d) chest effort, and (e) oxygen saturation

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