Devices, Sensors and Signals

 

The Devices, Sensors and Signals research area is concerned with the research and development of instruments, software, and systems for understanding, diagnosing, treating and monitoring medical conditions.

Projects within the research group are extremely diverse, but with a common focus on delivering benefits through the application of various technologies to the medical discipline. Each research project aims to solve problems identified by end users such as health professionals, hospital groups and patient groups and relies heavily on close input from the other research areas within the MDRI.

The research group is complemented by the mechanical and electronic workshops within the University, who provide design and manufacturing capabilities.

In addition, there is a close association with the Biomedical Engineering department of Flinders Medical Centre. 

Well known signals include electrocardiograms (ECG) to measure the activity of the heart and electroencephalograms (EEG) to record brain activity, but modern techniques allow measurements of a wide variety of properties (for example, of the skin, blood, and endocrine system), to provide more complete information.

 

Selected research projects include:

  • A new versatile hand grip dynamometer - a revolutionary instrument to accurately measure hand grip and pinch forces over a wide population, including those with hand deformities and low strength.
  • Mandibular advancement splint efficacy and compliance monitor - to provide clinical information on the use and success of these devices.
  • An adaptive orthopaedic screwdriver - responsive to varying bone quality to prevent over tightening in osteoporotic bone.
  • Objective assessment of tissue changes in the lead up to, progression of and the effects of treatment on lymphoedemas and related tissue swellings.
  • EEG for Epilepsy - this work involves the development of algorithms and software for analysis of EEG with the aim to learn the mechanisms of epileptogenesis, and seek clinical benefits in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy.
  • Mechanisms, consequences and improved diagnostic and treatment approaches for breathing and other disorders in sleep.
  • A study into neonatal thermoregulation and indirect calorimetry using non-invasive thermal imaging techniques to study neonatal thermoregulation on full-term and pre-term babies.

      

 [Pictured above R: neonatal thermal image of a normothermic baby]

 

Industry Engagement: Re-timer Glasses

Circadian rhythms are fluctuations in biological process occurring on a 24 hour basis. Researchers measure the circadian rhythms of body temperature, melatonin and sleepiness of humans in carefully controlled laboratory conditions in order to investigate the relationships between these rhythms and sleep. It appears that certain types of sleep disorders may be caused by delays or advances in the timing of the circadian rhythms and therefore may be treated with manipulations to normalise the timing of the rhythms. One such treatment is the exposure to bright light in the evening for those who have early morning awakening insomnia. Evening light treatment delays circardian rhythms and lengthens sleep. The opposite treatment of early morning bright light is an effective treatment in cases of sleep onset insomnia and delayed sleep phase disorder.

Re-Timer glasses (pictured) are now commercially available from Re-timer.com and are being used for the treatment of a variety of insomnias, winter depression, jet-lag, and shift work disorder.

Medical Device Partnering Program Impact

The Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) provided Re-Timer Pty Ltd with a low cost market entry product, incorporating new electronics into existing safety glasses.

The MDPP project included the design and production of low-cost prototype bright-light therapy glasses for use in the treatment of insomnia and the identification of a prospective commercial partner (SMR Automotive Australia Pty Ltd). As a result, the product is now manufactured in South Australia and sold worldwide.

 

For further information about Devices, Sensors and Signals research within the MDRI, contact karen.reynolds@flinders.edu.au