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Week: 574.5

Topic: MIT health sensor transmitter & wheelchair bed
Host/ Producer: Steve Girard

NEMA: Remote health sensors....coming up...

SPOT: For 15 years, the National Emergency Medicine Association has worked against stroke, heart disease and trauma. Join the effort, call 800-332-6362.

NEMA: A ring developed by MIT engineers may let doctors to monitor a patient's vital signs in the home 24 hours a day. The ring contains tiny sensors and a transmitter. Right now, it measures pulse rate and the amount of oxygen in arterial blood. Researchers hope to measure blood pressure and blood flow rate in the future. H. Harry Asada, a professor in mechanical engineering says the ring is primarily for monitoring elderly people who live alone, and can also estimate a patient's location. Patients just discharged from the hospital could also be monitored.

Also from the folks at MIT...researchers have come up with a powered wheelchair which can dock with a stationary unit, and turn itself into a bed. That means a wheelchair bound person doesn't need any help to get in and out of bed. The device is controlled with a joystick and an onboard computer, and was developed mainly by two graduate students, Joe Spano and Stephen Mascaro...both mechanical engineers.

I'm Steve Girard at The Heart of the Matter.

human muscle pressure, so tasks that previously required the help of another person can now be accomplished unassisted. The wheelchair, combined with a horseshoe-shaped bed, forms a system known as RHOMBUS (Reconfigurable Holonomic Omnidirectional Mobile Bed with Unified Seating). The powered wheelchair can be docked in the horseshoe portion of the system and reconfigured to a flat, stationary position forming a twin-size bed. The wheelchair's speed and direction are controlled by operating a joystick or by giving commands to the onboard computer. The RHOMBUS system allows bedridden or wheelchair-bound persons to be in either a bed or a chair without changing seating and without having to lift themselves or be lifted by others. Joseph Spano and Stephen Mascaro, graduate students in mechanical engineering, developed RHOMBUS with Professor H. Harry Asada of the department and Masayoshi Wada of Fuji. Funding for the patent-pending system has been provided by a consortium of industrial sponsors.


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