How do you test for asthma and equine heart disease using a remote slicker? Put the horse on a treadmill.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Asthma, heart disease or muscle problems can derail any athlete’s season – even racehorses racing at local tracks or aiming for the Triple Crown of horse racing.

Now, biomedical engineers and veterinarians at Purdue University have developed a new remote slicker that can monitor a horse’s heart, respiratory and muscular systems via Bluetooth technology. The e-textile may be useful for the long-term management of chronic disease in large animals, with the goal of having a version for human use.

Another benefit of e-textiles is that vets and their support staff won’t 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. (Watch a video of the slicker being used by a horse on a treadmill here.)

Laurent Couëtil (right) talks about the horse’s cardiac, respiratory and muscular systems with Chi Hwan Lee (left), 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

The findings on how e-textiles work are presented in a study published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Chi Hwan Lee, Leslie A. Geddes Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, said the Purdue team developed a dual-rate spray and a technique to directly embed a pre-programmed model of functional nanomaterials in slicker fabrics to add e-textile capabilities to slicker. 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 take advantage of 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.” (Learn more about the technology of Lee and how it will improve horse health here.)

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 demand increases for remote health monitoring.

Professors Chi Hwan Lee (right) and Laurent Couëtil talk while observing a heart, respiratory and muscle test on a horse named Leila at Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Graduate students Semih Akin (left) and Taehoo Chang capture the horse’s vital signs on a laptop computer via Bluetooth technology from a specially designed horse. Laura Murray, a research technologist at the College of Veterinary Medicine, is with Leila. (Photo Purdue University/Rebecca McElhoe) Download image

“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.

“Continuous 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 Huh, 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.

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About Purdue University

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Media contact: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496 (mobile); [email protected]; @mo_oates

Sources: Chi Hwan Lee, [email protected]

Laurent Couëtil, [email protected]

Taehoo Chang, [email protected]

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