Breathing is essential for human life. Issues related to respiration can be an indicator of problems related to the cardiorespiratory system; thus, accurate breathing monitoring is fundamental for establishing the patient’s condition. This paper presents a ready-to-use and discreet chest band for monitoring the respiratory parameters based on the piezoresistive transduction mechanism. In detail, it relies on a strain sensor realized with a pressure-sensitive fabric (EeonTex LTT-SLPA-20K) for monitoring the chest movements induced by respiration. In addition, the band includes an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which is used to remove the motion artefacts from the acquired signal, thereby improving the measurement reliability. Moreover, the band comprises a low-power conditioning and acquisition section that processes the signal from sensors, providing a reliable measurement of the respiration rate (RR), in addition to other breathing parameters, such as inhalation (TI) and exhalation (TE) times, inhalation-to-exhalation ratio (IER), and flow rate (V). The device wirelessly transmits the extracted parameters to a host device, where a custom mobile application displays them. Different test campaigns were carried out to evaluate the performance of the designed chest band in measuring the RR, by comparing the measurements provided by the chest band with those obtained by breath count. In detail, six users, of different genders, ages, and physical constitutions, were involved in the tests. The obtained results demonstrated the effectiveness of the proposed approach in detecting the RR. The achieved performance was in line with that of other RR monitoring systems based on piezoresistive textiles, but which use more powerful acquisition systems or have low wearability. In particular, the inertia-assisted piezoresistive chest band obtained a Pearson correlation coefficient with respect to the measurements based on breath count of 0.96 when the user was seated. Finally, Bland–Altman analysis demonstrated that the developed system obtained 0.68 Breaths Per Minute (BrPM) mean difference (MD), and Limits of Agreement (LoAs) of +3.20 and -1.75 BrPM when the user was seated.
Roberto De Fazio
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