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Proceedings Paper

Acoustic monitoring of first responder's physiology for health and performance surveillance
Author(s): Michael V. Scanlon
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Paper Abstract

Acoustic sensors have been used to monitor firefighter and soldier physiology to assess health and performance. The Army Research Laboratory has developed a unique body-contacting acoustic sensor that can monitor the health and performance of firefighters and soldiers while they are doing their mission. A gel-coupled sensor has acoustic impedance properties similar to the skin that facilitate the transmission of body sounds into the sensor pad, yet significantly repel ambient airborne noises due to an impedance mismatch. This technology can monitor heartbeats, breaths, blood pressure, motion, voice, and other indicators that can provide vital feedback to the medics and unit commanders. Diverse physiological parameters can be continuously monitored with acoustic sensors and transmitted for remote surveillance of personnel status. Body-worn acoustic sensors located at the neck, breathing mask, and wrist do an excellent job at detecting heartbeats and activity. However, they have difficulty extracting physiology during rigorous exercise or movements due to the motion artifacts sensed. Rigorous activity often indicates that the person is healthy by virtue of being active, and injury often causes the subject to become less active or incapacitated making the detection of physiology easier. One important measure of performance, heart rate variability, is the measure of beat-to-beat timing fluctuations derived from the interval between two adjacent beats. The Lomb periodogram is optimized for non-uniformly sampled data, and can be applied to non-stationary acoustic heart rate features (such as 1st and 2nd heart sounds) to derive heart rate variability and help eliminate errors created by motion artifacts. Simple peak-detection above or below a certain threshold or waveform derivative parameters can produce the timing and amplitude features necessary for the Lomb periodogram and cross-correlation techniques. High-amplitude motion artifacts may contribute to a different frequency or baseline noise due to the timing differences between the noise artifacts and heartbeat features. Data from a firefighter experiment is presented.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 August 2002
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4708, Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Defense and Law Enforcement, (14 August 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.479326
Show Author Affiliations
Michael V. Scanlon, Army Research Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4708:
Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Defense and Law Enforcement
Edward M. Carapezza, Editor(s)

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