TEDMED: Monitor sleep states from your mobile phone

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 29, 2009        

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NeuroVigilThe number one reason that Alzheimer’s patients are institutionalized is sleep disorders, Dr. Phillip Low, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of NeuroVigil explained during his presenation at the TEDMED conference in San Diego this week. It’s not dementia. Low said that 70 million people in the U.S. have a sleep disorder but only 4 million have had sleep tests.

Low explained that those who do go to a sleep lab might find the process for monitoring for sleep disorders a bit counter-intuitive since the technicians need to attach a couple dozen wires to your head to monitor your brain activity. True, you may have trouble sleeping at home, but it’s time to stick 28 wires on your head to find out why you can’t sleep.

In the morning the lab clinicians need to hand score the results on paper — there is no automatic, analytical process, which means the practice is fraught with errors and inaccuracies, Low said.

NeuroVigil uses an adhesive, wireless sensor or a head strap both of which monitor a single channel of EEG, brainwave activity and analyzes the data using an algorithm called SPEARS. Here’s the longer description from the company’s site: “By taking a single channel of EEG, SPEARS creates a map of brain activity, wherein waking and sleep stages have different signatures. SPEARS can represent a night’s worth of brain activity in clusters, where every sleep and waking state forms a separate cluster. SPEARS can reliably extract a maximal number of stages in minimal time, using a single channel. This means there is no longer a need for 16, 8, or even 2 channels when undergoing an EEG. This also means that no human needs to visually review all data in all those traces. Together, this creates the opportunity for a small, single-channel EEG system that can be performed anywhere, even while driving. Comparison of manual sleep test scoring with automatic scoring from the SPEARS algorithm shows no difference except in the large amount of time and labor saved.”

When used at home, NeuroVigil’s sleep monitoring solution streams and records the patient’s EEG data to and through their cell phone or smartphone. Low said that the company would soon announce a partnership with a big pharmaceutical company.