Imagine, if you will, a Patient’s Bedside Medical Monitor that has an “Emotional Stress Indicator”. This indicator could change color depending on the emotional state of the patient. What color will the indicator be when YOU enter or leave the room?
Typically, Medical Monitors only display the patient’s body functions. Why not add an Emotional Stress Indicator to Medical Monitors?
This indicator could also be called a “Life Force Indicator”, since emotions are the essence of life. Life can exist without emotions, e.g. comatose condition, brain dead, etc. Emotions, however, cannot exist without a functioning nervous system, e.g. life. The “Will to Live (or Die)” stems from an emotional source within a person, not from their bodily functions.
I was surprised in researching this article. There does not seem to be such a device invented yet. Will you be the first to invent a “Life Force Indicator”?
To make this device, you could build on the work of others. Medical Monitors, Biofeedback Devices, and Polygraphs (Lie Detectors) essentially all work the same way. Each of these devices measures one or more Vital Signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, etc.
When a person is emotionally stressed, the person’s vital signs are elevated, e.g. blood pressure, pulse, etc. Conversely, when a person is relaxed, the vital signs go down or decrease. The “Flight or Fight Response” explains this. Another indicator of emotional condition is Galvanic Skin Response, but Medical Monitors usually do not measure this. Future Medical Monitors might have this feature to give a more complete picture of the patient’s total mind/body condition.
Summarizing how this indicator might work is below.
- Indicator Green – Patient relaxed with slowed heartbeat, slowed full respiration, and decreased blood pressure.
- Indicator Yellow – Patient is becoming agitated with increasing heartbeat, shallow breathing, and increasing blood pressure
- Indicator Red – Patient is stressed and should relax as soon as possible. Heartbeat is fast, breathing is shallow, and blood pressure is too high.
Of course, a simple Emotion Indicator has to be combined with common sense, medical intuition, best judgment, etc. Yet, I think it would be helpful addition to the medical toolkit. What do you think?
To make such a device, you could do the following.
1. Add an indicator to a Medical Monitor, e.g. light, meter, bar graph, etc. For example, a light or LED could change colors based on the patient’s emotional state, as described above. Of course, “indicator” could also mean an audible, tactile, etc. alert. There could be one indicator or multiple. Use your imagination here. The “indicator” could be an icon, such as those used in “pain scales”. This icon or indicator could be a part of the Medical Monitor Screen, along with the vital sign displays.
2. Add a duplicate indicator on the Nurse Call Button Handset for the patient to view and use, if the patient wants to.
3. Modify the Medical Monitor Software or Algorithm to make the indicators change from red to yellow to green as vital signs diminish due to a decreasing stress level within the patient. Each of the vital signs could be tracked over a time, say 10 minutes, to determine a “history” or “baseline”. Each of the vital signs could have a weighting factor to adjust for the different influence of various emotions on each of the vital signs. The Medical Monitor could “learn” and automatically adjust these weighting factors as the patient is monitored continuously. By comparing the vital signs from the “history or baseline”, if “events” cause the vital signs to increase, it could be concluded that emotional stress is causing the elevated vital signs. “Events” could be someone’s presence or actions, the patient worrying about an impending event, or other. Once emotional stress is determined to be the cause of the elevated blood pressure and pulse, people around the patient could try calming the patient. In addition, the patient could calm themselves down, if taught by healthcare professionals. By monitoring the Medical Monitor USB or RS-232 port, the indicator could be a stand-alone, after-market, add-on device to the Medical Monitor. A separate microprocessor could monitor vitals, as outlined above, and provide indication. By doing so, the Medical Monitor itself would not have to be upgraded or modified.
4. Of course, wireless technology of today could provide portable sensing and indication, either locally on the patient or remotely at a nurse’s station. Perhaps, it could look something like a bracelet measuring physiological signs and the emotions behind these vital signs. With this device, medical personnel could know when someone is in distress, whether the patient says so or not.
Some typical uses for an Emotion Indicator are listed below.
1. Medical staff, family members, medical clowns, etc. could instantly see the emotional state of the patient. Each person could then adjust his or her actions to maximize relaxation in the patient. Ideally, the Emotion Indicator would be green indicating the patient is relaxed and open for suggestion.
2. Whoever enters the room should try to keep the indicator green as much as possible to promote healing and effective medical treatment. This indicator would be a monitoring reminder for all to “Do no Harm”. Anyone entering the patient’s presence can learn to adjust himself or herself to be calming, hopeful, confident, etc. This might be particularly helpful when the patient is a child, confused adult, or is not of the local ethnicity.
3. Doctors, nurses, and other hospital personnel could refine their “bedside manner” by using this indicator. There could be computer storage of this data for continuous improvement.
4. The patient could participate in his or her own well-being too. The nurse could instruct the patient on how to relax using the Emotion Indicator on the Nurse Call Button Handset, using standard Relaxation Biofeedback Techniques, such as deep breathing. By using biofeedback, the patient would also be distracted from ongoing medical treatments, worrying, etc. In addition, the patient would have a “sense of control”, which is very important to most people. A relaxed patient heals faster, better, and is much easier to treat medically. In this approach, the patient becomes an active part of the medical team, if they want to.
5. Hospital chaplains, psychologists, child life specialists, clown therapists, family, and visitors could “see” when they were “connecting” with non-responsive patients.
6. The emotion indicator would alert when a patient is is in pain and not sufficiently anesthetized, e.g. colonoscopy. There have been infrequent cases where a patient “wakes up” during surgeries or procedures and cannot move or communicate. Generally, emotional stress can be as a result of pain. Therefore, this emotion detector could also be a “Pain Detector”. In fact, many progressive doctors are considering two more Vital Signs in their evaluation – Emotional Stress and/or Pain.
7. Veterinarians, animal hospitals, zoo clinics could also have a quantitative indication of the level of stress within a creature. If you do not think animals have emotions, just ask any pet owner what happens when their pet gets angry.
If you would like to make this happen, here are some suggested steps.
1. If you are a patient, take this article to your doctor, hospital, hospice, etc. and tell them you think it is a good idea. Add your own thoughts, too.
2. If you are a doctor, dentist, midwife, or medical facility, refer this article to your medical suppliers and ask them to make it happen.
3. Post this idea on Social Networks, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. By doing this, you will promote Open Innovation, Collaboration, etc. all over the world.
4. Spread this concept around in the Prototyping Platform networks. Perhaps a good place to start would be the Arduino Forum. You would be surprised what hobbyists can make given a challenge. Commercial Medical Device Makers could then build on the work of hobbyists and make an FDA approved device.
5. If you are a Medical Student, discuss this with your professor and fellow students. Invite some Bioengineering students to your discussion. Collaborate and Invent. You could network with other universities locally or globally.
6. If you are a government, you could give research grants could explore this topic. In addition, government approval, e.g. FDA, could be streamlined for this new medical device. Global health organizations, such as WHO, could provide leadership.
7. Since relaxed patients heal faster and better, hospitals could see a cost savings. Sometimes hospitals or clinics have telecommunication units. This concept should be helpful there too.
8. Ambulance drivers, paramedics, EMT’s, military medical personnel could treat and move patients with less stress.
- Currently, Medical Monitors display a patient’s body functions.
- Medical Monitors could be adapted to display the patient’s emotional “Life Force”.
- Patients, visitors, and medical staff could all use this new concept to promote healing.
- Emotional Stress, Pain, and Health are inter-related. Pain causes emotional stress. Emotional Stress aggravates Pain. Emotional Stress is known to cause or, at least, contribute to many Health maladies.
For more information:
- “Medical monitor or physiological monitor or display”
- Monitoring (medicine)
- Monitoring Stress/Relaxation – Biofeedback
- As a Healthcare Professional, Are You Checking All the Vital Signs to Evaluate Total Patient Condition?
- Emotions & Physiological Monitoring
- Using Heart Rate Monitors to Detect Mental Stress
- Psychological Stress Evaluator: A Recent Development in Lie Detector Technology
- Accompanying Video to this article – http://youtu.be/xZ0QNwhgBZg
How to Make a “Medical Monitor with an Emotional Stress And/Or Pain Indicator” – How to Upgrade a Medical Monitor to Include the New Vital Signs of Emotional Stress And/Or Pain
Disclaimer – Article is for information only and is not medical advice.