Monday, June 17, 2024

1st in-ear wearable device to help decode long Covid-related brain fog

An American digital health company has developed a 24/7 in-ear wearable device that measures blood flow to the head and helps understand the mechanisms behind long Covid-related brain fog.

The device by STAT Health can predict symptoms such as dizziness, brain fog, headaches, fainting, and fatigue that occur upon standing.

These are common symptoms for illnesses like long Covid, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), and other orthostatic (caused by standing) syndromes.

The STAT wearable is the world’s smallest, and even smaller than some invisible-in-the-canal hearing aids. It can be worn in-ear 24/7 – even while sleeping and showering.

STAT uses an optical sensor instead of ultrasound and taps into a shallow ear artery to measure a proxy to ultrasound-derived cerebral blood flow — the blood supply to the brain in a given period of time.

“It’s well understood that the ear is a biometric gold mine because of its close proximity to the brain and major arteries. This allows for new biometrics such as blood flow to head and blood pressure trend to be possible,” said Daniel Lee, co-founder and CEO of STAT Health, in a statement.

“In addition, the ear is largely isolated from data corruption caused by arm motion – a problem that plagues current wearables and prevents them from monitoring heart metrics during many daily tasks. The ear is really the ideal window into the brain and heart,” he added.

The device also incorporates an accelerometer, a pressure sensor, temperature sensors, AI edge computing, multi-day battery life, and a micro solar panel.

It auto-detects a user’s every stand to track how heart rate, blood pressure and blood flow to head changes in response. It distills that into an Up Score to track time spent upright, and a Flow Score to help users pace their recovery by watching for blood flow abnormalities.

STAT then learns about each user’s unique body over time to provide personalised coaching to promote healthy lifestyle choices, such as informed hydration/salt intake, and paced rehab.

The device, clinically tested at Johns Hopkins and peer-reviewed in the March 2023 issue of Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), has shown to predict fainting minutes before it happens.

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