Challenges and applications for advanced medical monitoring in extreme environments
MetadataShow full item record
Monitoring vital parameters in extreme environments can provide a means to dynamically manage aspects of health, safety and energy expenditure throughout a given activity; avoiding unnecessary fatigue or increased risk. Equally, this technology could allow insight into physiological responses in a continuous manner, steeping away from ‘spot check’ data sampling. With the advent of the biosensewear revolution, recent reviews have compared emerging wearable technologies, highlighting the potential for non-invasive and continuous monitoring of core physiological parameters (ECG, SpO2, ventilatory rate, skin and core temperature) and related environmental parameters (barometric pressure, ambient temperature) under extreme exercise or working conditions. Herein, we review the challenges associated with monitoring these parameters continuously during challenging activities in isolated environments, as both a tool for careful remote management of personal safety, plus a requirement for future development of clinically relevant predictive algorithms. However, the measurement of health and performance in locations such as: terrestrial high altitude, remote areas, subterranean space analogues, hypobaric climate-enabled chambers or even the stratosphere requires a unique approach. It is essential for a functional biosensewear solution to be small, lightweight, robust and able to continuously collect accurate data without movement artefact. Equally, continuous remote acquisition and visualisation under even the most challenging of climate combinations (i.e. high humidity, temperature changes (+60°C to -40°C), hypobaria and precipitation) is required. In order to ensure efficient data acquisition for scientific or clinical interrogation, operational validity must be established and existing challenges (e.g., robust data aquisition and telemetry, battery-life, accurate under all environmental conditions) overcome.