WEST LAFAYETTE — With the exception of famous TV comedian Mister Ed, horses can’t discuss health issues with humans.
Now, a first-of-its-kind horse slicker with a specially designed liner may be able to “tell” the horse’s human caregivers of the rise in chronic disease.
A new study by Purdue University engineers and veterinarians explores how to convert off-the-shelf horse slickers into e-textiles that continuously monitor horses’ cardiac, respiratory and muscular systems for several hours in outpatient conditions.
The study is published in the journal Advanced Materials.
Laurent Couëtil (right) talks about the horse’s cardiac, respiratory and muscular systems with Chi Hwan Lee, Leslie A. Geddes Associate Professor at Purdue University’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Couëtil, a professor at Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is a Lee collaborator on a slicker horse designed to remotely monitor chronic disease in horses. (Photo Purdue University/Rebecca McElhoe) Download image
To add e-textile capabilities to slicker, the Purdue team developed dual-rate spraying and a technique to directly embed a pre-programmed pattern of functional nanomaterials into slicker fabrics. To enable remote monitoring, the e-textile was connected to a separate portable unit which shared vital signs with a laptop via Bluetooth.
The use of e-textile means that veterinarians and their support staff will not have to shave the horse’s hair or use messy adhesives to place the electrode on the horse’s skin, making it more comfortable for horse.
Chi Hwan Lee, Leslie A. Geddes associate professor at Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, said continuous monitoring across e-textile patterns can be useful for the long-term management of chronic health conditions in adults. animals and possibly humans. Lee also has a cross appointment in the School of Mechanical Engineering and a courtesy appointment in the School of Materials Engineering.
According to Lee, adding e-textile properties to existing garments helps scientists, researchers and clinicians leverage already existing ergonomic garment designs to ensure commercial grade wearability, comfort, breathability and machine washability.
“These specially designed electronic textiles can comfortably fit the body of humans or large animals under ambulatory conditions to collect biosignals from the skin such as chest cardiac activity, limb muscle activity, respiratory rate of the abdomen or other vital signs in an extremely lightweight manner,” Lee said. “Our technology will greatly expand the usefulness of e-textiles in many applications in the clinical setting.”
The team’s next steps are to develop continuous round-the-clock monitoring of horses with chronic illnesses or those receiving care in a veterinary intensive care unit.
“We believe our technology will be useful in the diagnosis or management of chronic diseases,” Lee said, especially as the demand for remote health monitoring increases.
“Remote health monitoring in ambulatory conditions would be useful for farm and domestic animals, as it could potentially minimize clinic visits, especially in rural areas. It would also increase the efficiency of managing large numbers of farm/domestic animals remotely, even overnight,” Lee said.
A concrete example would be the ability to monitor severe equine asthma, which affects 14% of adult horses.
A closer look at the specially designed pre-programmed sensor models inside a slicker horse designed for remote health monitoring. (Photo Purdue University/Rebecca McElhoe) Download image
“Continued surveillance would allow early detection of the onset of the disease before it becomes serious, thus offering the possibility of nipping it in the bud,” said Laurent Couëtil, professor of internal medicine of large animals at the Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine and study collaborator. . “Remote monitoring opens up the possibility of sending vital information to the veterinarian to help them make timely and informed treatment decisions.”
The Purdue research team also included Martin Byung-Guk Jun, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the School of Mechanical Engineering; Taehoo Chang from the School of Materials Engineering; Semih Akin, Bongjoong Kim and Sengul Teke from the School of Mechanical Engineering; Laura Murray of the College of Veterinary Medicine; and Seungse Cho, Sena Hur and Min Ku Kim from the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.
The Purdue Research Foundation’s Technology Commercialization Office has filed a patent for the technology. Funding came from the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (1R21EB026099-01A1), the National Science Foundation Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (1928784), and the SMART Films Consortium at Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center, located in Discovery Park.
This work is part of Lee’s focus on developing platform technologies using sticktronics, which are sticker-like items containing electronics or smart technology. Sticktronics provides the ability to physically separate support substrates in existing electronic items and turn an item into a sticker that can be more flexible or transparent, especially on curved displays and biomedical sensors. Lee also specializes in custom-printed soft medical sensors and conformable sensor arrays, all of which can transform telemedicine and on-demand drug delivery systems.