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Taking Temperatures With Smartphones—Is There An App For That?

Imagine this: You’re at home, recovering after surgery. One day you don’t feel as well and notice you’re running a slight fever. As soon as you realize this so does your healthcare team, and they are ready with the care you need to keep your recovery going smoothly.

That’s one possible future scenario based on the work that is going on in Dr. E. Sander Connolly’s Cerebrovascular Research Laboratory.

Every surgery has its risks, and Dr. Connolly is always looking for ways to minimize those risks and help patients recover from surgery more easily.

One possible risk after neurosurgery is infection. Because of this, patients are closely monitored for fever while recovering in the hospital. Occasionally an infection doesn’t start until after a patient goes home, where there is no 24-hour nursing staff to watch for symptoms. Infections that start at home are harder to catch in the early stages, before they become severe.

This is where Dr. Connolly thinks smartphone technology may help. 

These days we use our phones for everything, from scheduling to entertainment to keeping track of how many steps we’ve taken each day. There seems to be no limit to what can be done with smartphone applications (apps).

One of the many things smartphones can do is pick up information from wireless sensors. Dr. Connolly’s team did a study in which they taped small, wireless thermometer sensors under the arms of patients. These sensors were synced to smartphones through Bluetooth technology.

The team was able to see the patients’ temperature data on an app on the smartphones, and see that the app readings matched traditional thermometer readings. Matching the app data to traditional thermometer readings is important because this proves the app temperature readings are accurate and can be trusted by doctors.

Though still in the early stages of research, this inexpensive sensor and smartphone technology could mean that one day all neurosurgery patients will be sent home with an app to measure their temperatures after surgery. Their healthcare team could monitor temperature from the hospital while they rest at home, knowing that if they develop a fever that could mean an infection is starting, it can be caught and treated quickly.

Learn more about Dr. Connolly at his bio page here.

Learn more about the research being done in the Cerebrovascular Research Laboratory here.

Photo Credit: Combined two images © frikota/Dollar Photo Club & © mfbs/Dollar Photo Club

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