On-Body Antennas for Ambulatory Health Monitoring Sensors

Collaborators: University Health Network, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Research In Motion and York University.

The On-Body Antennas for Ambulatory Health Monitoring Sensors Project focuses on developing on-body antennas for emerging wireless health monitoring applications — in particular, ambulatory systems for monitoring respiratory, electrocardiograph (ECG), and neurological biorhythms (via electroencephalography or EEG).

Health care specialists are embracing wireless technology to administer patient treatment and monitoring in a more autonomous and cost effective way. In tele-care applications, the on-body antenna is integrated with a biomedical sensor to transfer the vital signs’ information to an in-home monitoring device such as a personal computer or a smart mobile phone that can be connected to a central medical data management via a cellular or internet network. Particularly in psychiatry, where the patient can frequently experience disruptive mental states, the capacity to concurrently assess objective neurophysiological data is useful in precisely regulating externallybased treatments (e.g. pharmacotherapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation). It can also be useful in instructing patients, within their home or work environments, in self-regulatory procedures. This capacity for 24 hour assessment and immediate responding represents a paradigm-shift from the current status quo tied to weekly, biweekly, monthly or crisis-driven appointments.

The antennas used in wearable wireless systems and body area networks (BANs) are integrated in network nodes located on or adjacent to the human body. The antenna design becomes very challenging in these applications due to the proximity of the radiating element to the human body and the stringent implementation (e.g. compact size, flexible or concealable) and operational (e.g. efficient, reliable or directional) requirements. This project, which will offer design solutions to address these particular issues, will be delivered through a three-year research program in collaboration with RIM, McGill University, Centre for Global eHealth Innovation (University Health Network), University of Toronto and (CAMH) Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

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