MSc thesis project proposal

[2018] Somnus -- Monitoring Premature Babies better by an impulse-radio ultra-wideband sensor in the incubator

Project outside the university

Erasmus Medical Center and University Medical Center Utrecht, Dept. Neonatology
Premature birth is the most common pregnancy complication that can seriously compromise the newborn brain's viability and normal development. Babies born preterm, viz. medically defined as three weeks or more before the normal 40-week gestational period, face a range of potential neurological disruptions, from subtle motor deficits that can be mostly overcome with therapy to severe mental disabilities. The earlier the birth, the greater the risk that these disruptions will produce devastating and potentially life-long cognitive, behavioral, and socialization deficits.

Current need:
Very little is known about preterm brain development during their stay at the intensive care. Techniques such as brain-NIRS (near infrared spectroscopy) and aEEG (amplitude integrated EEG) allow some (indirect) insights into brain wellbeing. Linking these techniques with brain output (such as movement and facial expression) would further increase our understanding of brain development. Allowing us to adjust current treatment strategies.

Because the incubator is mostly covered by sound proof blankets (which is a well accepted current practice in neonatal care (called NIDCAP)), good observation by nurses is difficult and certainly not quantitative.

Possible solution (Aim):
A solution could be an ultra-wideband sensor in the incubator with continuous quantitative movement analysis software (including facial expression analysis). The camera needs to be approved for medical use by the local hospital technical department and should thus have appropriate specs.

Value of such a device:
Besides a better understanding of preterm brain development this type of monitoring would also provide general well-being information (maybe being able to predict infections earlier then nurses) and together with aEEG it would be a tool for sleep analysis. Overall it could drastically improve neonatal care and as such reduce the major socio-economic impact of preterm birth.

Contact Wouter Serdijn

Bioelectronics Group

Department of Microelectronics

Last modified: 2018-02-19