A Smart Garment for a Healthy Future An interdisciplinary team has created a garment that could revolutionize the treatment of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and disorders.
r. Bruce Benjamin dreams of a future where diseases are treated before they become problematic. Whether it’s cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure or respiratory diseases and disorders such as sleep apnea and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing a life-altering medical event. “One of the greatest challenges we face in the battle against cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and disorders is identifying at-risk people early so they can begin treatment,” says Benjamin, interim vice provost for graduate studies and associate dean for biomedical sciences at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa. “In many cases, if a patient is diagnosed early and begins treatment, a catastrophic event like a heart attack can be prevented.” In an effort to make his prevention vision a reality, Benjamin helped bring together a diverse group of researchers to create a Health Smart Garment that will help diagnose patients earlier by monitoring their vital signs for an extended period of time. The group, consisting of researchers in biomedical sciences, industrial engineering and textile science, has been developing a garment that is
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functional and comfortable to fit the needs of medical professionals and patients in a variety of fields. “Patients will be able to wear this garment while at home, rather than in the doctor’s office or in the hospital,” says Benjamin. “It can monitor vital signs over a period of hours or days to give physicians a more accurate picture of how the systems in the body are functioning.” Benjamin’s colleague, Dr. Satish Bukkapatnam, professor of industrial engineering and management and the director of the OSU Sensor Networks and Complex Systems Research Lab, has developed a sensor system to go into the garment. Bukkapatnam serves as the principal investigator for an Innovation Corps Grant from the National Science Foundation to help develop the garment for market. “People are craving a solution for disease diagnosis that is viable and will help solve their medical problems,” says Bukkapatnam. “With this technology, patients could be treated for diseases they don’t even know they have yet.” Designed for patient comfort and wearability, the garment will give physicians continual assessment of patients and help detect abnormal patterns in heart and breathing rates that are more difficult to discern from traditional tests. “The whole idea of wearable electronics has unlimited applica-
tions in all sorts of different aspects our lives,” says Dr. Mary RuppertStroescu, assistant professor of apparel design and textile science. “This project seamlessly integrates technology that monitors vital signs with our fabric to create a very wearable garment.” Ruppert-Stroescu has developed the design of the garment, including selecting a fabric that is comfortable, creating a fit that is comfortable and natural to wear and creating ways for the garment to house the sensors. “The smart garment integrates the sensor technology developed by our team right into the fabric,”
Want more details on the Health Smart Garment? Scan this code to hear Mary Ruppert-Stroescu and Brek Wilkins discuss the garment’s creation and potential uses. Video is also available by visiting