Wearables and AI CF research project could be a game changer - Institute for Respiratory Health

Wearables and AI CF research project could be a game changer

Monday, April 29, 2024 | Uncategorised

During Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month a new research study combining wearable technology and artificial intelligence (AI) aims to transform the lives of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, reduce hospitalisations and empower them to take greater control of their health.

The two-year innovative research project is funded by the Institute for Respiratory Health’s Glenn Brown Memorial Fund, it will be led by Dr Douglas Forrester, a clinical associate professor at The University of Western Australia and a clinician at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

CF can affect people differently, but the symptoms are often caused by a build-up of thick sticky mucus in the lungs, digestive system and other organs. It can cause long-term breathing problems and affect someone’s quality of life. 

“Most of the time doctors only get a snapshot of how patients are doing,” Dr Forrester said.

“But now we have innovative gadgets that can collect health information all of the time, from any location in the world. Imagine having a scale and a wristband that helps you keep track of your CF every day.

“This project is one of the first to use wearable devices to help people manage their CF. If it’s successful it could mean CF patients get help with physiotherapy, exercise and diet from the comfort of their home, resulting in fewer hospital visits and giving patients more control over their condition and wellbeing.

“The real-time data we are collecting could detect an infection before the symptoms appear and we could start treatment a lot sooner before the patient becomes seriously unwell, avoiding a visit to the clinic and disruption to their lives.

“It will be particularly beneficial for those in regional areas, where there is a shortage of doctors.”

The project is a pilot to see if the research delivers meaningful outcomes. 50 CF patients aged between 16-65 will participate in the initial study, which will start in 2024.

“Data we will be collecting will include spirometry, medication use and admissions to name a few,” Dr Forrester said.

“Utilising a blue-sky approach and innovative technology in healthcare research is rarely possible. This award is giving us the chance to take a leap forward in how we approach digital healthcare here in Western Australia – it could be a game changer and it’s thanks to funding from the Glenn Brown Memorial Fund.”

If the pilot study is successful, the approach could be made available to patients with lung disease worldwide.

The Glenn Brown Memorial Fund is dedicated to advancing medical research and improving the lives of people living with cystic fibrosis and related lung conditions.

Research funds have supported 10 CF research projects and 46 scientists, doctors and students in Western Australia.