Research Explores Remote Triage and Rehabilitation During Pandemics via Visual Based Patient Physiologic Sensing

Research Explores Remote Triage and Rehabilitation During Pandemics via Visual Based Patient Physiologic Sensing

University of Maryland researchers Min Wu (Principal Investigator, Clark School of Engineering) and
Donald Milton (Co-Principal Investigator, School of Public Health) was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) RAPID grant for their project, titled Understanding and Facilitating Remote Triage and Rehabilitation During Pandemics via Visual Based Patient Physiologic Sensing.

This RAPID project plans to investigate visual-based physiological sensing technologies to facilitate remote triage and rehabilitation during pandemics, by using low-cost consumer-grade cameras to track such physiological conditions as respiration rate, heart rate, and blood oxygen saturation levels from videos. The physiological data can be visualized and archived, and shared by users with medical practitioners to understand and support remote triage and rehabilitation.

The proposed research can enhance the interaction between medical providers and patients, and help address a projected surge in telehealth needs due to COVID-19. The PI team plans to conduct the first-of-a-kind data collection, by incorporating the novel contact-free video sensing into a biomedical cohort study that is being rolled out by a public-health collaboration team. This cross-disciplinary opportunity of multimodal data collection will offer insights on the relationship of multiple biosensing modalities, and the data collected would facilitate the research on early detection of COVID-19 and related diseases. The visual-based physiological sensing will also help enhance the remote interaction between rehabilitation therapists and patients during pandemics.

The intellectual merit of this effort lies in advancing promising engineering techniques of video-based contact-free physiological monitoring to support the rising needs of remote triage and rehabilitation during pandemics. The research findings and techniques developed address an important missing component in telehealth, which simultaneously achieves social-distancing, avoids hospital overcrowding, and prioritizes personal protective equipment in response to pandemics. By collaborating with another cohort study, an unprecedented multitude of data collected by the joint effort will provide key insights toward understanding and managing COVID-19 diseases and remote triage for future outbreaks. The timeliness of this opportunity cannot be met by any regular NSF programs other than the RAPID.

The project's broader impact lies in two aspects. The multidisciplinary effort will provide important new knowledge and insights toward understanding and developing technology capabilities for remote triage and rehabilitation, which will contribute to the early detection, spread control, and effective management and prevention of future epidemics. The techniques developed through the project to support tele-rehabilitation will have a strong potential to improve the adverse conditions and quality of life of the affected citizens.

June 4, 2020


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