In a new study, researchers describe the development of a low-cost and effective chest wall motion assessment system, essential for the rapid and accurate diagnosis of respiratory diseases, that uses Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect sensors. Importantly, the system allows for 3-D and time varying representations of a patient’s torso, and has shown promise in initial evaluations.
The study, “Chest wall motion analysis in healthy volunteers and adults with cystic fibrosis using a novel Kinect-based motion tracking system,” was published in Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing.
Pulmonary function and chest wall movement are important measurements in the assessment and diagnosis of respiratory diseases, and for monitoring response to treatments or procedures. Spirometry, which uses a sensor to measure forced air flow expiration, is the most common approach for evaluating patients with lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive disease. However, it cannot directly measure full chest wall motion and does not allow for an evaluation of the function and health of different lung segments.
Researchers developed an innovative, inexpensive system that is proving to be as accurate as spirometry but which also provides important information about chest movements. The system consists of four Kinect sensors, allowing measurement of movement from more than one viewpoint and quickly creating a 3-D image of a patient’s torso. The researchers tested the prototype initially using a resuscitation mannequin, and then on healthy adults and patients with cystic fibrosis. Comparisons between spirometry and prototype results show good correlation, allowing researchers to state the system looks promising. Further work should allow the development of the prototype into a valuable system for assessing respiratory disease in a cost-effective and timely manner.
The proposed system, consisting of software and four Kinect sensors, is expected to cost £100, while the cost of treating respiratory diseases to the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) is more than £6 billion each year.
This technology is “[a] ‘game changer’ in screening, diagnostics, monitoring therapy and providing bio feedback,” Dr. Babu Naidu, the study’s chief investigator, a thoracic surgeon at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) and clinical scientist at the University Birmingham, said in a press release. “[T]he Xbox can be used in any condition affecting breathing.”