Is it possible for the elderly and people with heart conditions to maintain independence without compromising their safety? With the right technology, the answer is yes.
Those of us who remember the time before cellphones also remember the time when we saw commercials for devices that allowed people living alone to get help by pressing the button on a pendant. This video is one example of the commercial that immortalized the line, “I've fallen and I can't get up!”
Fast-forward some 35 years to this video and see how things have changed. Today's seniors are no longer depicted as helpless characters tripping over their walkers, but are instead seen as active individuals. They are aware that they need to monitor their health and be in contact with health professionals, but instead of having to press a button, they can wear an “hWear” shirt from HealthWatch, an Israeli startup with the slogan, “Weaving Health Into Everyday Life.”
Woven into the fabric used in hWear shirts are very thin electrocardiogram sensors that take in the data associated with the wearer's vital signs and upload this information via Bluetooth or a WiFi connection. The collected information can be reported to a doctor or back to the wearer via a mobile device. If there are any danger signs in the data, the patient can be alerted to seek medical attention without having to first come into an office just to get the ECG.
The shirt works with HealthWatch's MasterCaution line of products, which use mobile and cloud technology for monitoring and reporting critical health information. That technology makes “telemonitoring” possible, allowing people to go about whatever daily activities they choose without having to be shadowed by someone who is constantly checking up on them. Designed for people who are active, the shirts are also machine-washable — a great benefit for the practical-minded among us.
As Uri Amar, HealthWatch's CEO says, “Unlike other products that report only heart rate, our new healthwear garment is a true medical device monitoring full 15-lead ECGs along with other physiological vital signals. It will change the future of personal monitoring offering around-the-clock peace of mind to users — wherever their lifestyle takes them.”
Anyone who has had an ECG in a doctor's office has had to lie still for a while, but these shirts are designed to pick up an accurate signal even when the wearer is moving, and with the functional capability of a 15-lead ECG, the data should be as reliable as anything one would be hooked up to in a hospital.
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